I have already tackled proposals that were coming down the pipe in North Carolina for both alligator and elk hunting seasons in previous columns. On February 11, 2016, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) held votes for rule changes to the regulations, and two of those that came up in the vote were the alligator and elk management.
Public meetings were held in each district throughout the state to gain input from the hunters and non-hunters alike on topics such as these two. In all there were 37 different rule changes brought to the forefront.
Of the rule changes, 34 were approved as taken to public hearings. This means you and I had an active voice in how to approach the potential rule changes. One gameland rule was amended and approved, bringing the total approvals to 35 of 37 proposals.
One rule was disapproved, that being the regulation and approval of alligator hunting in North Carolina. This in essence now states more input from biologists would be needed prior to opening a season for alligators. The commission did open the possibility of a nuisance and depredation clause that could be handed down via proclamation from Gordon Myers, the executive director of the NCWRC. In other words, it may be possible for a property owner to take an alligator through a special permit in which the alligator causes or can cause harm to land and/or property.
|An alligator season is not in the cards anytime soon in N.C.|
One rule was withdrawn from consideration regarding the Eastern cougar being removed from a federally listed species, as state law requires the species to match the federal listing. It was up for approval because it is expected to be removed from the federal list, however it has not happened as of yet.
As far as the elk hunting proposal, the commission opened the door for elk hunting in North Carolina, although there will be no permits issued for the coming 2016-17 season. Much is speculation at this point, and I have been vocal on this matter myself. Our herd has not been managed to this point in a way to allow any abundance of hunting, as the herd has been very slow to grow. We did not take the same approach Kentucky did for instance.
It does look like the commission is taking the challenge seriously though. It has been speculated the permit for hunting elk in North Carolina may be one of the hardest tags to get in the country; perhaps as few as five will be available each year.
|Hunting elk in NC could be one of the hardest tags to obtain in the country.|
Some have noted they expect a commissioner’s or governor’s tag that can be issued or auctioned off to anyone. There is also some thought that a tag will be reserved for a youth hunter as well. Others have stated that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation may receive one, and then the remainder either dispersed through a lottery draw or some type of auction.
Myers also stated he plans on working with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians as well as other partners in establishing the proper metrics to guide a permit only hunt in the near future.
Based on how I have seen other states handle hard to hunt and limited hunts for specific species, I will share my beliefs in what should happen. I invite any and all readers to share their thoughts as well either by letter to the editor of this newspaper or to me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Especially in the early going, I would like to see a resident-only lottery permit system put in place. For instance, Georgians have been vocal about their disapproval for non-residents pulling alligator permits in their state and Georgia issues more permits for alligators in a single zone than we have total elk population in North Carolina.
I am fine with both a governor’s tag and a youth tag. I do think the governor’s tag should be an auction style bid in which the most money proposed gets the tag. This money should go directly towards the conservation of the herd.
Monies from the lottery for the remaining tags should go with the auctioned tag and used in possibly expanding the herd by bringing in more animals. The one question here, which I am back and forth on, is the possibility of introducing a disease detrimental to the herd, so care will need to be taken.
Obviously there is much more to be looked at here, but I am growing more confident each day that we may do this correctly.