The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is now taking public comment on several proposed changes to hunting and fishing regulations.
The Wildlife Commission continues to lift restrictions on hunting wild boar as the exotic animal is increasingly recognized as a detriment to the native ecosystem. The proposal calls for extending the wild boar season to run nearly six months, from early September through February. The hunting method would be restricted, however, to whatever weapon is in season for other game during that time. For example, during bow and arrow season for deer, boar can only be hunted with bow and arrow, not a gun. And hunting boar with dogs can only be done when it corresponds with dog season for bears.
While the method of hunting would be limited, extending the boar season should encourage hunters who are already in the woods after other game to take down any wild boar they happen to stumble across as well.
“This regulation change was requested by U.S. Forest Service personnel in order to control increasing populations of wild hogs on Forest Service property as well as private lands in the western six counties,” the Wildlife Commission proposal states.
The Wildlife Commission is also proposing to lift restrictions on trapping otter. Otters were wiped out of Western North Carolina due to over trapping, but have been reintroduced over the past couple decades.
“When otter restoration efforts were taking place, otter populations were low and vulnerable to harvest pressure,” the proposal states. But “restoration efforts have been successful and the bag limit on otters in Western North Carolina is no longer needed.”
The Wildlife Commission also proposes lifting the daily bag limit on deer, which is now capped at two per hunter per day.
The Wildlife Commission is inching toward lifting the ban on hunting on Sundays. An in-depth analysis of the Sunday hunting ban and whether it should be lifted was conducted in recent years, generating mass amounts of comment statewide. The Wildlife Commission didn’t end up lifting the ban, but a proposal in the works would allow only bow hunting on private land on Sundays — no guns and no public lands, but a foot in the door for Sunday hunting at the least.
Among the proposals, the Wildlife Commission wants to quit stocking several sections of stream in the region. For some stretches, the Wildlife Commission claims the trout are reproducing adequately enough on their own to support fishing and the stocking of trout isn’t necessary.
Here’s the stretches in the area that would be reclassified as Wild Trout/Natural Bait Trout Waters due to reproducing wild populations:
• Hiwassee River in Clay County, 13 mile upper section.
• Hemphill Creek in Haywood County.
• North Shoal Creek in Cherokee County.
• Webb Creek in Cherokee County.
• Big Tuni Creek in Clay County.
• Vineyard Creek in Clay County.
On other stretches, the Wildlife Commission plans to quit stocking because the stream isn’t good fishing anyway and therefore doesn’t merit stocking, either because the streams make for poor trout habitat or lacks adequate public access to make fishing feasible. Those stretches include:
• Hothouse Branch in Clay County.
• Tessentee Creek in Macon County (total of 5.9 miles).
• Shooting Creek in Clay County (total of 5.1 miles.)
A public hearing on the changes will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 14, at Southwestern Community College in Sylva. Comments can also be sent in via email. Visit www.ncwildlife.org and look for the comment link.
The Wildlife Commission board will vote on the rule changes in March.