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RALEIGH, N.C. (Dec. 7) - A prohibition on river herring and restrictions on importing parts of deer and related animals are among several proposed changes to the state's fishing and hunting rules.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will hold its annual series of public hearings across the state in January, asking for public comments on an array of proposed changes to hunting, fishing and trapping regulations. After hearing public comments, the 19 members of the state Wildlife Resources Commission will meet in March and vote whether to adopt the revised rules. For a complete list and explanation of the 20 fishing and 35 hunting proposals, log onto www.ncwildlife.org.

Some of the proposals apply only to a single county, a single public game land or even to a single body of water. Others would affect hunting and fishing on a broader scale.

The proposed ban on importing certain deer, elk and moose parts from other states is intended to protect North Carolina animals from chronic wasting disease. The fatal neurological disease has afflicted deer and elk in 12 states and two Canadian provinces. It has not been detected in North Carolina. The restrictions would allow the following deer, elk or moose parts to enter the state if the items are properly labeled:
· meat that is cut and wrapped;
· quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached;
· meat that has been boned out;
· hides with no head, meat or other tissue attached;
· cleaned skull plates with no meat or other tissue attached;
· antlers;
· cleaned teeth;
· finished taxidermy products.

The proposed ban on fishing for alewife and blueback herring, which are collectively known as river herring, would prohibit taking or possessing the fish in coastal rivers and their tributaries up to the first dam. Coastal stocks of river herring are severely depleted, and restrictions are necessary to promote their recovery.

Other proposed hunting and fishing rules changes include:
· opening spring turkey season each year on April 10, or on April 9 when the 10th falls on Sunday;
· allowing harvest of "male or bearded" turkeys during the spring gobbler season, making it legal to harvest beardless males and bearded hens;
· raising the minimum length limit for flounder in inland waters from 13 inches to 14 inches;
· allowing coyotes, which have increased in area and population within North Carolina, to be hunted at night using red or amber lights outside deer season.

The Wildlife Resources Commission will hold nine public hearings across the state:
· Monday, Jan. 9 - Bladen County Courthouse, Elizabethtown;
· Wednesday, Jan. 11 - Alamance County Courthouse, Graham;
· Thursday, Jan. 12 - South Stanly High School, Norwood;
· Tuesday, Jan. 17 - Morganton Municipal Auditorium;
· Wednesday, Jan. 18 - Southwest Community College, Sylva;
· Thursday, Jan. 19 - Starmount High School, Boonville;
· Tuesday, Jan. 24 - Swain Auditorium, Edenton;
· Wednesday, Jan. 25 - Craven County Courthouse, New Bern;
· Thursday, Jan. 26 - Annex Building, District Court Room, Louisburg.

Hearings begin at 7 p.m.
 
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