Over the last three years the Commission led a comprehensive review and revision of the 2005 Wildlife Action Plan with partners from state and federal agencies, conservation organizations and citizen stakeholders. The current version describes the threats facing Species of Greatest Conservation Need and their habitats and recommends measures to address current and emerging threats through 2025, when the plan will be revised. Implementation of these recommendations will help prevent the need to list species for federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. The plan also catalogs ongoing efforts to protect and conserve the state’s fish and wildlife species and their habitats — from mammals and birds to fish, crustaceans, reptiles and amphibians.
The Wildlife Action Plan was created in response to a 2002 congressional requirement that each state must have a comprehensive conservation strategy to be eligible for federal matching funds under the State Wildlife Grants Program. Each year, North Carolina receives approximately $1.3 million to support implementation of conservation actions recommended in the plan. Projects include survey and monitoring efforts that help fish and wildlife biologists understand the conservation status of nongame species in the state. State Wildlife Grants also support enhancement and restoration efforts such as propagation and release of rare species into native habitats or conservation of existing populations of rare species and their habitats.
I want to follow up on a couple of items from a previous column. First is House Bill 1125, introduced by Representative Brian Turner to prohibit hunting from public Right-of-Ways in Buncombe County. For the life of me I don’t know why this is getting so much press time other than it’s a slow news cycle. There should be no controversy here (which is what local news is usually about). Both the Asheville Citizen-Times and local ABC affiliate WLOS have done stories on it and I got interviewed for both. So let me state this clearly: This is a good bill that will assist WRC enforcement officers in stopping illegal taking of game, i.e. poaching. All counties surrounding Buncombe already have this law: Madison, Haywood, Henderson, and Mitchell. Buncombe is just the late-comer to the party. The Bill has been referred to the House Wildlife Resources Committee and should pass without objection.
Second, is Senate Bill 889, calling for a NC Constitutional Amendment to protect the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife. Why does it need to go into the constitution? Because the constitution deals with rights and regular laws have more to do with privileges. The animal rights groups know they cannot attack hunting at the national level so they plan on chipping away at the local level. Last year they got an initiative on the ballot in Maine to stop bear hunting. Fortunately the good people of Maine defeated it. They tried the same thing in nearby Kentucky but it never made it to the ballot initiative.
Another thing SB 889 does is establish public hunting and fishing as the preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. Again, why is this important? Not two weeks ago, Mayor DeBlasio of New York City, tried to set up a program to give male deer on Long Island vasectomies to reduce the deer population and stop the damage they are doing in local neighborhoods; to the tune of $2.5 million. Urban archery deer hunting has proven effective in managing deer populations while benefitting those in need. Look no further than our local program, Backyard Bow Pro. They do management hunts in subdivisions and donate the venison to local food pantries. So far they have contributed thousand s of pounds of meat and fed hundreds of thousands of meals through this program. This and hunting in general will be protected by this Bill. If it passes both houses, it will have to be voted on by the general populous in the 2016 election in November.