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RALEIGH, N.C. (Dec. 10) – A reduction in the Eastern season buck bag limit, an extension on squirrel season and definitions on natural and artificial bait for mountain trout waters are among the proposed changes to the state’s fishing and hunting rules.

In January, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will hold its annual series of nine public hearings across the state, inviting public comments on 84 proposed changes to hunting, fishing and trapping regulations. After hearing public comments and reviewing written comments, the 19 members of the Wildlife Commission will meet in March and vote whether to adopt the proposed rules.

Some of the proposals apply only to one county or region, while others apply statewide. For example, the buck bag limit reduction from four bucks to two bucks would apply only in the Eastern Season, creating a uniform bag limit across the state.

The proposed one-month extension of red and gray squirrel season, effective statewide, would move the closing day from Jan. 31 to the last day of February, bringing the season in line with other small-game species seasons.

A proposed regulation on the definitions of natural and artificial bait may be of interest to mountain trout anglers, particularly those who use fish-attracting baits, such as Power Bait, when fishing in wild trout and delayed-harvest trout waters where only artificial bait is allowed. This proposal, if passed, would apply to public mountain trout waters and defines artificial lures as bait that neither contains nor has been treated with any substance that attracts fish by the sense of taste or smell, while natural bait is defined as any living or dead organism or prepared substances designed to attract fish by taste or smell.

Other proposed hunting, trapping and fishing rules changes include:

Eliminating regional trapping seasons for mink, muskrat, nutria, otter, skunk, weasel, bobcat, opossum, raccoon, coyote and groundhogs and establishing one statewide season, Nov. 1 through the last day of February, with exceptions;
Implementing a one-fish creel limit on blue catfish greater than 32 inches in length in Lake Norman and Badin Lake;
Opening 3,800 acres in Burke County as a permit-only game land and 1,900 acres in Brunswick County as a six-day-per-week game land;
Closing the striped bass season in the inland and joint fishing waters of the Cape Fear River and its tributaries year-round; reducing the daily creel limit to two fish and establishing an Oct. 1 to April 30 harvest period for the inland and joint fishing waters of the Tar-Pamlico, Neuse, and Pungo rivers and other rivers and waters in the Coastal Plain, excluding the Roanoke River/Albemarle Sound striped bass management area and Cape Fear River;
Adding several species to the state’s list of Endangered, Threatened and Special Concern species while removing others from the list.

For full text of the proposed regulations changes, visit the Commission’s Web site, Welcome to N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, and click on the Proposed Regulations link located on the home page.

Comments can be submitted in one of three ways:
Attending a public hearing;
Mailing comments to 1701 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1701;
Visiting the Commission’s Web site, Welcome to N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

2008 Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Public Hearings Schedule
All hearings begin at 7 p.m.

DATE Tue, Jan 3
CITY Raleigh
LOCATION Commission Headquarters Centennial Campus. See note below.

DATE Mon, Jan. 7
CITY Elizabethtown
LOCATION Bladen County Courthouse

DATE Wed, Jan. 9
CITY Graham
LOCATION Alamance County Courthouse

DATE Thurs, Jan. 10
CITY Norwood
LOCATION South Stanly High School

DATE Tues, Jan. 15
CITY Morganton
LOCATION Morganton Municipal Auditorium

DATE Wed, Jan. 16
CITY Sylva
LOCATION Southwest Community College

DATE Thurs, Jan. 17
CITY Boonville
LOCATION Starmount High School

DATE Tues, Jan. 22
CITY Edenton
LOCATION Swain Auditorium

DATE Wed, Jan. 23
CITY New Bern
LOCATION Craven County Courthouse

DATE Thurs, Jan. 24
CITY Louisburg
LOCATION Annex Building,
District Court Room

* January 3, 2008 (Thursday) hearing in Raleigh at the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s
Centennial Campus Center for Wildlife Education pertains only to administrative changes in falconry, trapping, controlled hunting preserves, captivity permits and propagation licenses.
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