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Annual Safe Boating/Driving Program

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By Don Mallicoat- The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will kick-off “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive,” a multi-agency safety initiative aimed at summer holiday travel, with a news conference on May 19 at Upper Barton Creek Boating Access Area on Falls Lake. The campaign will work to reduce accidents on the state’s roadways and waterways, which see increased traffic during summer months. Many accidents are alcohol-related. In North Carolina, a driver or vessel operator with a blood-alcohol concentration that meets or exceeds .08, or is appreciably impaired by alcohol and/or drugs, is subject to arrest.

Participating agencies will highlight the importance of having a designated driver, whether operating a vehicle or vessel. Law enforcement officers will conduct sobriety checkpoints and increase patrols during busy summer holiday weekends. The campaign is supported and coordinated by the Wildlife Commission, State Highway Patrol, Alcohol Law Enforcement, Forensic Tests for Alcohol, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Governor’s Highway Safety Program, U.S. Coast Guard and local police and sheriff’s offices, along with participating non-governmental organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

We have shared before the importance of Pittman-Robertson Act funding to Wildlife Agencies and wildlife habitat. The ATF just release figures for the fourth quarter of 2013 and the entire year. This portends well for both the agencies and wildlife in general. Following are the results of the Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax (FAET) collections report for the 4th Quarter Calendar Year 2013. These figures cover the period of October 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013. Pistol and revolver sales contributed $57.4 million, rifles and shotguns realized $67 million, and ammunition came across with a whopping $89 million for a total of $213.4 million in wildlife funds.

These 10 to 11 percent excise tax dollars collected since 1937 under the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act are specifically designated to be used by state wildlife agencies for conservation, to date nearly $9.0 Billion has been administered through this successful Act. Collectively, purchasers of firearms and ammunition and hunters are the single-largest source of wildlife conservation funding. The 2013 annual collections (January 1 – December 31) totaled $863,696,528 making it the highest year on record to date, surpassing the previous record 2012 of $643,915,884 by 34.1 percent.

Turkey season ended this past weekend and with the warm weather our thoughts start to turn to fishing. Delayed Harvest waters are still open through June 7th when they revert to Hatchery Supported waters. Stream flow is usually pretty good because of Spring rains so this may be a good time to get out and catch some fish. Hatchery Supported waters are stocked monthly. If you are interested in the Hatchery Supported Stocking schedule visit the Commission’s website, click on the Fishing tab at the top, and then at the top right click on the cold water stocking link. You can access the data by county from the map.

Don’t forget smallmouth fishing on the French Broad River. We have some great fishing there particularly on the lower stretches through north Buncombe and Madison counties. If water conditions are right you can wade certain portions or if you have a canoe/kayak float it. Smallmouth Bass can often be found in sections of river where plenty of underwater structure is present.  Rocks, trees, and bridge pilings are fishy locations to focus on. Depending on temperatures, fish will fluctuate between deep pools and shallow water. Work the seams and deep pools with a weighted fly or a worm, crayfish, or hellgrammite pattern.  The faster the current, the more weight you’ll need to get your rig down fast.  In the warmer temperatures, try throwing poppers to the banks and under over-hanging tree branches.

Turkey season is over and again I didn’t kill a bird. In fact, I didn’t even get out this year. I did have plans to go out several times on private property. To show how my luck runs, one of those times was the Tuesday morning when we had heavy rain and flash flooding. The private road on the property got flooded. I did hear plenty of reports from hunters that they had “tagged out” by killing two Toms. Hunters come in the store and ask why we don’t have an Autumn turkey season. The answer from the WRC is that population data do not show an increase. A critical part of those data are hunters reporting harvests and they don’t think a lot of hunters do that. So if you want an Autumn turkey season in the future let your friends know we all have to report harvests.

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