08/08/08 — NC Sportsmen given new way to voice opinions

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NC Sportsmen given new way to voice opinions

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on August 8, 2008 1:35 PM

RALEIGH -- In order to cut costs and save time, an old North Carolina WIldlife Resources Commission system is getting a high tech overhaul.

Begining this week, sportsmen will be able to voice their opinions regarding the state's waterfowl seasons by logging onto www.ncwildlife.org and posting their thoughts in the new 'Waterfowl Season Comments' box.

The new Web-based input system is an online jump from the more traditional town meeting format that has been used for several years.

"This is just a new way for people to be able to make themselves heard," said Migoratory Game Bird Coordinator Joe Fuller. "The wildlife resources commission has been accepting online comments regarding other issues for about a year, and the new season comment page is just an extension of that."

In the past, nine meetings were held statewide in order to gather input on season dates and lengths.

The wildlife resources commission decided to do away with the public events due to a general lack of interest and poor attendance numbers over last three years.

"I know that those meetings have been taking place for many years with one being held in each district, but recently the attendance has just not been there, especially in the western districts," said Fuller. "We still want the hunters, and the sportsmen to know that their comments are important and that they will be heard ... just in a different way."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Commission sets a general guideline from which individual states may select their waterfowl seasons. The state wildlife commission then picks specific dates based in large part on the public comment sessions.

"There is a very strict time frame in which we have to work," said Fuller. "The new system not only saves man hours by not requiring meetings, but it also saves time by setting a definite cutoff date for input."

North Carolina regular waterfowl seasons begin in September and include seasons for ducks, geese and swans.