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Public addresses concerns to Wildlife Resources Commission

A group of around 100 citizens gathered Thursday night at the Stanly County Agri-Civic Center for the third in a series of public hearings on fishing, trapping and hunting regulations in North Carolina.

The hearings, held in each of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s nine districts, are sponsored by the NCWRC and allow participants to hear and offer comments on proposed regulations as well as updates to existing ones.

Feedback from the meetings is recorded and provided to the members of the commission. Votes on the recommended changes will take place at the agency’s meeting on Feb. 21.

Proposed changes were presented in four categories. These included Inland Fishing (20 proposed changes), Wildlife Management (six proposed changes), Game Lands (16 proposed changes) and Enforcement (two proposed changes).
Only one comment was offered during the presentation of proposed changes, and was delivered by Billy Mills of Albemarle, who expressed concern with the terminology used in pre-meeting information, specifically regarding a regulation change proposed for “cervid carcass importation,” which would prohibit transport of deer carcasses from Virginia, Georgia and Tennessee into North Carolina.

The purpose of the proposal is to stop the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease, a fatal neurological disease affecting the cervidae family, which in North Carolina is primarily deer and elk.

“I’m disappointed at the number of sportsmen here at the meeting,” said Mills, “but I think more people might have come out if instead of ‘cervid,’ you would have been more clear about what a ‘cervid’ is…an animal in the deer family. I had to look up ‘cervid’ to see what it means. The language is not user-friendly.”

David Cobb, who was presenting the wildlife management proposals, agreed consideration would be given to clearer communication in future media releases.

Following presentation of proposed changes, a number of general comments were delivered by audience members.

Shane Eudy of Oakboro called Stanly County “the most lawless county anywhere” in regard to hunting regulations, and said it was common for local farmers to grant permission for others to shoot deer on their land under the guise of crop damage control.

“You can go out here to Burleson Square on any morning and see these ‘good old boys’ writing out permits,” said Eudy, who said that it was common for him to find deer carcasses along roads, in ponds and in fields “around Booger Hollar, St. Martin and McLester roads.”

“These people will gut-shoot the deer and then they are too lazy to go get them,” he said. “You regulate us, but you let some of them kill 200 deer a year. Plus, the deer carcasses attract coyotes, making that problem worse.”

Others voicing comments and questions included:

• Keith Morgan of Norwood, who expressed concern with the growing coyote problem in the area;

• Scott Tucker of Harrisburg, who posed questions on the proper interpretation of Urban Deer Season boundaries;

• Perry Morton of Ridgecrest, who expressed concern with regulations governing field trials held on game lands;

• Andy Thomas of Avery County, who voiced disagreement with a number of proposed changes to fishing regulations; and

• S.C. Cooper of Mt. Gilead, who questioned enforcement practices and consistency in the Montgomery and Richmond County area.

Interested citizens may register for email updates on proposed rules and regulations from the NCWRC by subscribing at www.ncwildlife.org/subscribe.

Toby Thorpe is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.