08/14/05 — Outdoors -- Some changes offered for waterfowlers

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Outdoors -- Some changes offered for waterfowlers

By Gene Price
Published in Sports on August 14, 2005 2:16 AM

For the first time since 1991, some waterfowlers could be able to hunt migratory Canada geese for 15 days during January in the 11 counties of the Northeast Hunt Zone. It would be by permit-only and the season limit would be one Canada goose per hunter.

While that might not sound like much, it is a reflection of an international effort to restore Canada geese that used to come to our states -- notably the Lake Mattamuskeet area -- by the hundreds of thousands.

The migratory flights dropped alarmingly until fewer than 20,000 came to the state. Stringent rules by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have led to an increase in migratory goose populations.


While migratory goose populations dwindle, there has been an explosion of resident "Canada" goose populations. That's in quotations because these geese have never set their webbed feet on Canadian soil. They have, however, set their feet and left their droppings on golf courses, local and state parks and private lawns, gardens and piers.

They have become such a nuisance that the Wildlife Resources Commission has adopted a liberal five-birds a day allowance during much of the season in many counties. The resident goose season is open statewide during September with the five-bird limited everywhere but in Dare County.

The USFWS framework

Under the framework allowed by the USFWS, North Carolina hunters again would be allowed six ducks per day. Unlike in past years, hunters could include six mergansers (only one hooded merganser) in their daily bag.

Here are some of the federal offerings:

Ducks -- six per day with no more than one black or one mottled duck; four mallards with no more than two hens; two wood ducks; two redheads; two scaup; four scoters; one canvasback and one pintail. Unlike previously, the pintail could be taken during the entire season.

Tundra swan -- October 1-January 31, permit only.

Snow geese -- 107 days between October 1 and March, 15 per day.

Coots -- 15 per day during duck season.

Hearings set

The State Wildlife Resources Commission must set its seasons and limits within the guidelines established by the USFWS. But sportsmen can have an influence of the dates and bag limits established by the commission.

They will have an opportunity to hear how and why the USFWS set the guidelines and have an input in the Wildlife Commission's rule setting process.

Public hearings have been scheduled across the state for this purpose. Those closest to this area will be Wednesday, August 17, at Craven County Courthouse in New Bern and Thursday at Nash County Courthouse in Nashville. Hearings begin at 7 p.m.

'Not for sale'

"The state marina at Southport is not for sale."

Governor Mike Easley issued that statement several days ago.

Thank you, Governor Easley.

The governor was referring to a 45-acre site which has been used by thousands of boaters for years. The property is under the control of the State Ports Authority which is charged with overseeing operations of our deep-water ports at Wilmington and Morehead City.

Forty-five acres of prime waterfront property is valuable. Especially to developers. The Ports Authority has some offers attesting to that fact -- offers of up to $16 million.

The folks at Southport expressed opposition. The governor has petitions with 6,000 signatures demanding that the property not be sold. That's pretty impressive since Southport itself has only about 3,000 citizens -- one of whom is the governor of North Carolina!

Those who would buy the property from the state undoubtedly would maximize the return on their investment. We can envision wall-to-wall condos and privately controlled everything.

The property today is owned by the state and it can control its destiny and use by all of our citizens.

Governor Easley wisely decided to keep it that way.

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Public views of shrimp trawling will be heard Monday at Wayne Agriculture Center in Goldsboro beginning at 6 p.m.