On April 25, House Bill 559, titled “Outdoor Heritage Enhanced,” passed the House of Representatives on a 102-17 vote. Sponsored by North Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) Co-Chair Representative John Bell and Caucus member Representative Chris Millis, HB 559 would expand Sunday hunting to public lands and public waters, subject to rules established by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC). The legislation would also potentially allow for Sunday migratory bird hunting, both waterfowl and webless species, following a study conducted by the NCWRC.
At the House Committee on Wildlife Resources (Committee) meeting on April 24th, representatives from the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), and Delta Waterfowl testified in favor of HB 559. CSF and NSSF also provided written testimony supporting HB 599 to the Committee in advance of the meeting. NCWRC Executive Director Gordon Myers elucidated the management authority relationship for migratory birds between the state of North Carolina and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the Committee. Ultimately, HB 559 passed favorably out of Committee with only two dissenting votes.
Sunday hunting is currently permitted in North Carolina only on private lands, with the written permission of the landowner. Additionally, it is not permitted to hunt on Sundays within 500 yards of a place of worship, within 500 yards of a residence not owned by the landowner, or from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday hunting is prohibited in counties with populations greater than 700,000, and hunting migratory birds and deer chased by dogs is also barred on Sundays. HB 559 would not change the prohibition against deer hunting with dogs on Sundays.
As a member of the Sunday Hunting Coalition, CSF works in concert with partner organizations to reduce barriers to participation in hunting. Expanding Sunday hunting opportunities increases access for sportsmen and women, thereby supporting hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation and conservation funding. Increasing access for hunters also supports North Carolina’s economy that benefits from the more than $2.3 billion in spending by the state’s over 1.6 million sportsmen and women.
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?