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Hunting Bear over Bait

Brown Bear RS

Unprocessed food may only be used from the first open Monday of the bear season until the following Saturday (six days only) hunters may use unprocessed foods to aid in the taking of bears on private lands. This prohibition does not apply to the release of dogs in the vicinity of any food source that is not a processed food product. However, dogs may not be released in the vicinity of any commercially available mineral supplement whether placed for the purpose of attracting deer or otherwise.

So what defines unprocessed food? As the name implies, it is food that has not been processed for other uses. Examples may be corn or apples. Processed foods include any food substance or flavoring that has been modified by the addition of ingredients or by treatment to modify its chemical composition or form or to enhance its aroma or taste. This includes but is not limited to: food products enhanced by sugar, honey, syrups, oils, salts, spices, peanut butter, grease, meat, bones or blood; candies, pastries, gum and sugar blocks; and extracts of such products.

Other restrictions to using processed foods include you cannot take a bear while in the act of consuming unprocessed foods. It is also illegal to use bait attractant, including scented sprays, aerosols, scent balls, and scent powders. Also, while these laws apply to private land it is a violation of law to place any sort of processed or unprocessed foods on game lands such as Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests. So if you plan on hunting bear from a stand this year insure you know the regulations.

A recent article in the Raleigh News & Observer ballyhooed the increase in Pittman-Robertson funds to the NC WRC as a result of the recent increase in firearm and ammunition sales. The state received nearly $20 million dollars this year, nearly three times what it received in 2007 before the gun and ammo surge began. That is great news and as a result the WRC has constructed additional shooting ranges; four recently built and three more on the way. That’s where the money should go since shooters and hunters pay the excise tax. That’s where my applause ends.

Then the article goes in to how hikers and other recreational users will benefit by new parking lots and reconditioned roads on game lands. The WRC is also lauded in the article for some of that money going to studies of songbirds, flying squirrels, and eagles. Here’s my rub: Pittman-Robertson money should be used primarily to benefit those who pay the excise tax. That is hunters and shooters. I don’t care about hiking trails and parking lots. I want the money to go into wildlife habitat projects that benefit hunters. Simply put: use the money so we can have quality habitat as a place to hunt.

I’ve noticed an increasing trend in recent years for the WRC to spend money on and highlight non-game species. And yes, by law they have a responsibility for all wildlife in N.C. But I also remember the old southern saying, “Dance with the one who brung ya.” In other words, who are the primary stakeholders of the WRC? Who pays most of their bills both through P-R funding and license fees? That would be hunters and shooters, not hikers, bikers, and bird watchers.

Along with this I hear comments from hunters in the store about being treated as interlopers by bikers and hikers in the Pisgah National Forest during hunting season. It’s like WE shouldn’t be there when in fact we pay for the privilege to be there through a Game Lands permit and they pay nothing. This is why I continually emphasize here and at any opportunity that hunters better get involved and stand up for your rights/privileges before they are gone.

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