11/13/08 — OUTDOORS -- Marsh column

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OUTDOORS -- Marsh column

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 13, 2008 1:46 PM

While I was driving along a rural road in deer hunting territory, I happened to have the window down to take in the exhilarating scents of the fall woods. It was a shock when a putrid odor filled the truck cab as I crossed a bridge.

Too late to power the windows up.

I suffered the odor of deer remains dumped from the bridge for half a mile. Heads, hides and ribcages littered the roadside where wild animals, dogs and vultures had dragged the leftovers from hunter kills to the road shoulder.

Improper disposal of deer and bear remains occurs all too often this time of year. But on page 63 of the WRC's regulations digest is a half-page banner, warning of a possible $2,000 fine for the practice. Lazy hunters, or hunters who do not know better, all too often drop them beside the road or in a ditch. But a charge of littering may extend to other common practices with hunters who have no idea they are doing anything wrong.

Doug Jones, a Master Officer with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, idled his gray SUV behind my vehicle at Stone's Creek game land to see what happened. Having just accompanied a group on a pre-season quail count, I was eating lunch. Litter was evident in many places at the game land, and vandals had plainly driven around the gates illegally as well. None of the litter was mine and I had parked outside the gated entry.

"I have authority to enforce many laws of North Carolina while patrolling for hunting, fishing, boating and trapping," said Jones. "If I see someone toss a cup out the window, I will write a ticket for littering."

I accompanied him to one of the back roads entering the game land and saw where people had dumped demolition debris, dead pets and fast food bags. He said he sometimes found evidence that led to the identity of the illegal dumper.

"Sometimes I find a receipt," he said. "You would be amazed at the quantity some people dump. Anything over 500 pounds of litter is a felony. I find old furniture that can add up to that."

I asked him about the common practice of gutting a deer before bringing it out of the woods. He said if he saw it occur on a game land, he would write the hunter a ticket.

"You have to bring everything out and dispose of it properly, including the entrails," he said. "Most hunting clubs have a place where they dispose of remains in a hole and cover them up. That is the best way to dispose of them.

"But you must do it on private property where you have permission to do so. Hunters may also contact their local landfill. All landfills have provisions for the disposal of animal carcasses."

Jones said some hunters dump remains into streams, fouling the water. He said they say, wrongfully, that turtles will eat them.

"In places where it occurs frequently, I work with a partner," he said. "One of us stays beneath the bridge where illegal dumping is occurring and the other is in a vehicle by the roadside. If a dumper shows up, the officer under the bridge calls the officer in a vehicle and the dumper receives a ticket for littering."

In the past, some dumpers were caught when they left their big-game tags attached to remains. But now hunters can call in or email their harvest reports, so tags no longer aids officers in tracking down violators.

"Hunters must be respectful of others and their property and are always in the public eye," said Jones. "It is not helpful when they drop animal remains along the roadside because they can stay there for a long time. People see the results on our roadways and waterways every day during the season and a long time after the season.

"Bones and skin take a long time to disappear. Hunters must take the disposal of deer remains seriously and act responsibly."