Legislation to expand seven-day hunting opportunities in North Carolina was recently filed in the state by members of the North Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus.
The Outdoor Heritage Act (House Bill 640), filed by Caucus member and House Agriculture Co-Chairman Representative Jimmy Dixon on April 13, is a legislative package designed to protect and promote the Tar Heel State’s proud outdoor heritage for future generations. Included in the package is language that would allow hunting with firearms on Sundays on private property excluding waterfowl hunting, using hounds for deer hunting, and hunting within 300 yards of a place of worship. It would additionally allow for the Wildlife Resources Commission to adopt rules regarding hunting on Sundays and the manner of take effective July 1, 2018.
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) President Jeff Crane stated, “This legislation benefits North Carolina’s outdoor heritage and the state’s economy in major ways. It is essential for ensuring the state’s outdoor heritage and for protecting the recreational opportunities enjoyed by the current and future generations of sportsmen and women.”
“I am pleased with the broad support of this bill from over 24 stakeholder groups who have been actively involved in helping to develop House Bill 640. I believe this is the most significant outdoor heritage legislation ever considered in North Carolina,” said Rep. Dixon. “I consider the crown jewel in this bill to be the proposed Trust [North Carolina Outdoor Heritage Trust Fund for Youth Outdoor Heritage Promotion] for promoting outdoor heritage activities to youth 16 and under.”
Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Buck Newton stated, “The North Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus has long been pushing to expand access and opportunity for sportsmen and women in North Carolina. The overall efforts to expand opportunity for our youth and hardworking North Carolinians is meant to protect our rich hunting heritage. Currently, spending by hunters in North Carolina exceeds $650 million, which supports over 9,300 jobs; it is estimated that expanding seven-day hunting would contribute an additional $311 million in total economic output, adding 3,600 jobs with over $94 million in wages.”
Senator Newton and Caucus member Senator Bill Rabon filed Senate Bill 658 on March 26 that would also allow for seven-day hunting with certain restrictions. The legislation would additionally allow for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to adopt rules on Sunday hunting effective July 1, 2016.
North Carolina is one of only 11 states that restrict seven-day hunting. Members of the North Carolina Sportsmen’s Caucus Advisory Council, in-state conservation partners, and local stakeholders have diligently led the grassroots efforts the past several months to allow seven-day hunting opportunities.
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?