The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission voted Wednesday (Feb. 10) to move its annual public hearings from January to September as a part of overall adjustments to its rulemaking cycle.

"Adoption of rules on an annual basis is critical to meeting our conservation objectives," Wildlife Resources Commission Executive Director Gordon Myers said. "Prior to making these changes, the Commission's rulemaking cycle was severely impacted by delayed implementation of rules. These impacts were felt by our sportsmen and created a great deal of confusion. By adjusting our annual rulemaking cycle, we are able to better ensure timely adoption of rules while providing better service to North Carolina's sportsmen."

Each year, the Commission adjusts hunting, fishing and trapping seasons in response to wildlife population changes, wildlife conservation objectives, or public needs and desires. Public comment on proposed rule changes is a critical component in the decision making process. The Commission will continue to provide a variety of public input options including online, written and face-to-face opportunities. The Commission will notify constituents of these opportunities months before the public hearings begin.

This is not the first time the Commission has adjusted its rulemaking cycle. Prior to the 1980s, inland fishing and hunting regulation proposals were developed on separate schedules; public hearings were conducted in September for inland fishing regulation proposals and April for hunting regulation proposals. In 1983, the Commission integrated the cycles and began conducting a single set of public hearings in the month of March. Several years later, as a result of changes in the Administrative Procedure Act, the Commission moved the hearings again to the month of January. The supporting purpose of the change was to ensure that regulations could be implemented prior to hunting and trapping seasons.

For more information on the rulemaking process, download the brochure "From Proposal to Regulation."