North Carolina Bear Hunters Association

North Carolina Bear Hunters Association


The Path To SB-1246

There were instances where the current hunting statute resulted in uncertainty for both hunters and enforcement personnel. The core issue evolved from incidents where individuals feed bears during the spring and summer (when the bear hunting season is closed), remove the feed stations or allow the feed to be consumed before hunting season, and then hunt on the property where the feed stations were previously used. Additionally, deer hunters in the eastern regions of North Carolina can use bait for taking deer. As a result, enforcement actions were taken against individuals who thought they were compliant with the laws and regulations.

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Feeding Bears

In North Carolina, the public can feed bears at any time. Hunters frequently feed bears during the spring and summer months to provide them with nutrition during periods when traditional native food sources are limited. Additionally, there's strong evidence that summer feed stations help hold the immediate bear population locally and significantly aids in diverting bears away from commercial agriculture and residential areas.

A variety of different foodstuffs are routinely supplied at feed stations. These foodstuffs are characterized as natural foods and processed foods. The distinction between these two classes of food is important because they are treated differently in terms of NCWRC enforcement policy. This is because the agency is concerned that processed foods have a much greater tendency to form a pattern of habit where bears return to a feed station for several days after processed foods are removed.

Baiting Bears

In many states, bear hunters can legally use bait in piles, barrels, troughs, trailers, etc. to lure bears within the range of hunters (suitable for archery or firearms) who would be positioned nearby to kill any bear while eating the bait or in close proximity of it. In North Carolina, our laws prohibit bear hunters from using bait during the established bear hunting season. Our no-bait law has been in effect for more than three decades.

NCBHA Requests Clarification

In response to what could be considered an outbreak of NCWRC enforcement citations for taking bears with the aid of bait, the NCBHA asked Richard Hamilton (NCWRC Executive Director) in April 2005, for a simple common language clarification of the bear baiting regulations. The intended purpose of the clarification was to provide hunters and enforcement personnel with a commonsense definition and simple guidelines that could reduce the confusion and uncertainties about bear baiting and feeding. Thus allowing all parties to better comply with and enforce the law.

In October 2006, NCWRC brought forth their plan to remedy the situation. Instead of clarifying the existing regulation as requested, NCWRC felt it more appropriate to rewrite the regulations rather than try to explain what the former regulations meant. The NCWRC proposed regulations were developed entirely without NCBHA involvement or input.

In late October 2006, the NCBHA and NCWRC debated and argued over several key points in the proposed regulations. While some issues were modified, it was the opinion of the NCBHA that the overall proposal became even more difficult and confusing. The NCBHA felt that the proposed regulation was far too cumbersome and still failed to resolve many of the issues causing the problems.

Unfortunately, productive negotiations collapsed, and the NCWRC decided to take the proposal to the January public hearings despite the concerns and opposition of the NCBHA. Additionally, both the NCWRC and NCBHA agreed to separate natural (non-processed) food from the processed foods, thus allowing natural foods to be placed in the environment to feed deer and bear.

The NCBHA then had their opportunity to address their principal concern, which was the increased citing of bear hunters for taking bear with the aid of bait, simply because deer corn or other natural foods were present in the general area. Both parties understood the benefit of resolving this problem and agreed that bear hunters could check natural food bait sites with their hunting dog and could release dogs at the baited sites for the purpose of pursuing the bear or the bear's scent. As always a bear hunter may not kill a bear upon or in the immediate vicinity of a baited site.

A Law Is Drafted

Both parties agreed to draft a bill they would lobby and support throughout the legislative process. The bill was introduced in the state Senate by Senator Jenkins where it passed without opposition. It was moved to the House under the care of Representative Arthur Williams where it passed and was then sent to the Governor. On June 20th, 2007, Governor Mike Easley signed SB-1246 into law.