RALEIGH – A new law, Outdoor Heritage Enhanced, will increase opportunities to hunt wild animals and upland game birds on private lands, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission announced Friday.
The law also gives authority to the commission and other public landowners to implement new options for Sunday hunting on public lands. Sunday hunting for migratory birds, including waterfowl, remains prohibited.
On private lands:
- Hunters may hunt within 500 yards of a residence, potentially opening millions of acres of private land previously off-limits to Sunday hunters.
- Hunters may not hunt at any time on Sunday within 500 yards of a place of religious worship, nor hunt deer with the use of dogs.
- Shooting hours remain unchanged, meaning private lands may be hunted for wild animals and upland game birds with a firearm on Sunday prior to 9:30 a.m. and after 12:30 p.m.
- Controlled hunting preserves are not restricted between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. if they are licensed pursuant to G.S. 113.273(g).
On public lands:
- Public land managers, including the commission, may authorize hunting on Sundays with a firearm on the public lands for which they have jurisdiction.
- If public land managers allow Sunday hunting on their lands, hunters remain prohibited from hunting with a firearm between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., from hunting deer with the use of dogs and from hunting within 500 yards of a place of religious worship.
- Sunday hunting on the commission’s game lands remains prohibited.
- The commission will implement a collaborative and inclusive process with constituents to evaluate options and opportunities to open Sunday hunting with firearms on the about 500,000 acres of game lands owned by the commission. The process will include consideration of all user-group perspectives.
- The commission will work collaboratively with governmental, private and corporate partners to determine interest in allowing opportunities to hunt on Sundays with a firearm on the about 1.5 million acres of game lands owned by those partners. If these partners are willing to consider this option, then the commission will follow the process described for commission-owned game lands.
- Hunting of migratory birds on Sundays remains prohibited.
- The new legislation gives the commission the authority to lift the prohibition on migratory bird hunting after March 1, 2018.
- The law also mandates that a study be conducted by the commission to consider the biological and resource management impacts, economic impacts and social impacts associated with hunting migratory birds on Sundays.