Contact: John Culclasure, Southeastern States Assistant Director
On October 9, a coalition of national and in-state sportsmen’s conservation groups submitted a letter to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) expressing support for opening Sunday hunting on Game Lands.
The Outdoor Heritage Enhanced Act of 2017 transferred regulatory authority for Sunday hunting on public lands from the legislature to the WRC. The legislation was a priority for the North Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and member organizations of the Sunday Hunting Coalition. Since that time, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and partners have encouraged the WRC to move forward with rulemaking to allow Sunday hunting on Game Lands. Currently, no Game Lands are open for Sunday hunting.
This year, the WRC gathered public input through online polling, in-person and online meetings, and virtual stakeholder group meetings and ultimately recommended 57 Game Lands for Sunday hunting allowance. WRC Commissioners will decide later this month whether to take the proposal to allow Sunday hunting on the 57 Game Lands to public comment in December.
The letter also thanked the WRC for listening to public input and making recommendations consistent with the feedback received from hunters and nontraditional users and additionally urged the Commission to vote in favor of moving forward with rulemaking for the 57 Game Lands proposed for Sunday hunting.
The letter stated, “Permitting Sunday hunting on Game Lands will afford hunters that do not have access to private property a place to hunt and provide access parity with other user-groups as hunters are currently the only constituency barred from using Game Lands on Sundays. Opening Sunday hunting on Game Lands will also benefit North Carolina’s economy, support conservation funding for the Wildlife Resources Commission, and further hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation efforts.”
CSF appreciates the efforts of the WRC staff and Commissioners to implement this legislation and looks forward to a continued partnership. Opening Sunday hunting on the 1.64 million acres that comprise the recommended 57 Game Lands would be a tremendous access improvement victory for the sportsmen and women of North Carolina.
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?