The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will hold two public next month to receive comments on permanent rules regarding conditional coyote hunting in the five-county red wolf reintroduction area in northeastern North Carolina and the designation of the red wolf as a state-listed threatened species.
The public hearings will begin at 7 p.m. on these dates and locations:
• Feb. 3 at the Columbia High School auditorium, 902 East Main Street, Columbia.
• Feb. 17 at Commission headquarters auditorium, 1751 Varsity Drive, Raleigh.
As amended, the rules would allow daytime coyote hunting from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset on private property in Dare, Beaufort, Hyde, Tyrrell and Washington counties with a coyote-hunting permit that will be available online at www.ncwildlife.org. Daytime hunting would be allowed on state-owned game lands by special-hunt permit only. Hunters would be required to report all coyotes killed in the five-county area.
A court-ordered injunction in May 2014 halted coyote hunting in the five counties, except under extremely limited circumstances. The proposed rules will establish the process to allow conditional coyote hunting in the five-county reintroduction area.
If a red wolf is accidentally killed, it must be reported within 24 hours by calling the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 1-855-496-5837 or the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission at 1-800-662-7137.
In North Carolina’s other 95 counties, hunting regulations allow coyote hunting on private land day or night, with no bag limit, and on public land at night with a permit. Coyotes are found in all 100 North Carolina counties and pose a predatory threat to pets, livestock and native wildlife. Hunting and trapping are effective tools for landowners to manage coyote populations on a localized basis.
The amended rules will fulfill the requirements of a court order resulting from a lawsuit brought by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of the Red Wolf Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife and the Animal Welfare Institute against the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. The suit alleged the Wildlife Commission violated the federal Endangered Species Act by allowing coyote hunting in Dare, Beaufort, Hyde, Tyrrell and Washington counties where an experimental reintroduction of red wolves by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is occurring.
Comments also can be made online at https://ncpaws.org/PAWS/WRC/PublicComments/PublicEntry/PublicComments.aspx or by letter to N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, 1701 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1701. Comments will be accepted through March 16, 2015.