On December 5, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission announced plans to hold four public meetings across the state to gather public input on migratory bird hunting on Sunday. Migratory bird hunting on Sunday is currently prohibited in North Carolina, although the Commission could remove the prohibition after March 1, 2018.
The “Outdoor Heritage Enhanced” legislation of 2017 (HB 559/SB 624), sponsored by North Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs Representative John Bell and Senator John Alexander, granted the Commission the authority to lift, by proclamation or rules, the prohibition against migratory bird hunting on Sunday no earlier than March 1, 2018. Signed into law by Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus member Governor Roy Cooper, the “Outdoor Heritage Enhanced” legislation requires the Commission to first complete a study on the economic, social, biological, and resource management impacts associated with hunting migratory birds on Sunday. It also requires that the Commission submit the findings of the study (by March 1, 2018) to the Speaker of the House, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and the House Committee on Wildlife Resources.
The Commission contracted with Responsive Management, a natural resource survey research firm, to conduct the migratory bird Sunday hunting study which will examine public attitudes towards hunting migratory birds, waterfowl and webless species, on Sunday before the Commission takes any action regarding opening migratory bird Sunday hunting.
The passage of HB 559 was a major advancement for increasing access and opportunity for North Carolina’s sportsmen and women. Building on the success of the 2015 Outdoor Heritage Act that repealed the 145 year-old ban against Sunday hunting with firearms on private property, the “Outdoor Heritage Enhanced” legislation also removed the prohibition, subject to rules established by the Commission, against hunting with firearms on public lands of the state managed for hunting as well as the prohibition against hunting within 500 yards of residences not owned by the landowner.
Additionally, Sunday hunting in counties with populations larger than 700,000 (i.e. Wake and Mecklenburg Counties) is permitted, and the county “opt-out” provision, which allows counties to “opt-out” of Sunday hunting, is now required to be approved by a majority of voters in a county-wide referendum.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, as a member of the Sunday Hunting Coalition, worked with Delta Waterfowl, the National Rifle Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Safari Club International and other partners to support the “Outdoor Heritage Enhanced” legislation.
In addition to the four public meetings scheduled this month, there will also be opportunities for the public to provide input online.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?