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RALEIGH, N.C. (March 6) — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission met on March 5 and approved 83 changes to state hunting, fishing and trapping regulations, including the harvest of striped bass in eastern rivers and the opening of the black bear hunting season in Greene, Lenoir and Pitt Counties.

The striped bass harvest regulation change closes the season in the inland and joint fishing waters of the Cape Fear River and its tributaries year-round; reduces the daily creel limit to two fish and establishes an Oct. 1-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.

“These rules were developed by Commission staff in concert with N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries and based on studies that indicated excessive mortality rates on these stocks,” said Robert Curry, chief of the Division of Inland Fisheries. “It is our hope that with restrictions on both recreational and commercial fisheries, that these stocks will increase and provide additional angling opportunities in the future.”

Wildlife Commissioners disapproved three proposed hunting regulations: 1) moving Cleveland and Rutherford counties into the Northwestern deer season; 2) allowing falconry on Sundays and; 3) reducing the buck bag limit in the Eastern Deer Season from four to two.

Public input led to the modification of some proposed rules, such as a reduction in the number of jug hooks from 100 to 70 per boat and a consolidation of trapping seasons from one statewide season to two regional seasons.

Due to a technical problem dealing with rule procedures, the hunting proposal to extend the red and gray squirrel season could not be considered by the Commission.

Wildlife Commissioners also approved a fishing regulation, applying to public mountain trout waters, that defines natural bait as any living or dead organism or prepared substance designed to attract fish by taste or smell, while artificial lures are defined as bait that neither contains nor has been treated with any substance that attracts fish by the sense of taste or smell.

”This rule clarifies what kinds of lures are allowable when trout fishing on waters that require anglers to only use artificial lures,” Curry said. “With new attractant lures coming on the market every year and no definition of what comprised natural bait and artificial lures in the NC Statutes or regulation digest, anglers have had a lot of questions.

Each year in March, Wildlife Commissioners vote on proposed regulations changes after hearing staff recommendations and reviewing comments received at a series of public hearings held across the state every January.

To view the full text of all regulations changes, visit the Commission’s Web site, Welcome to N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and click on the Changes in Fishing, Hunting and Trapping Regulations for the 2008 to 2009 Season link.
 
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