"Sunday Hunting" Hearings Rescheduled
Special Report - January 27, 2009
Sunday hunting is expected to be among the issues discussed at two public hearings later this week, after the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) rescheduled the meetings due to last week’s snow. The hearings (Wednesday, 7:00 pm at the Craven County Courthouse in New Bern and Thursday, 7:00 pm at Swain Auditorium in Edenton) are being conducted by the WRC to receive public comments on a long list of proposed hunting and fishing regulations, including an effort to weaken North Carolina’s longstanding prohibition against Sunday hunting. Specifically, the proposed rule changes would allow hunting on Sunday with archery equipment and falconry and would expand the list of “permitted archery equipment” to include crossbows, which are activated by a trigger and have a much longer range than the longbows, recurved bows and compound bows currently authorized for use in North Carolina.
In a letter submitted to the WRC opposing the rule change, North Carolina Family Policy Council president Bill Brooks noted, “Many of the dangers of allowing hunting on Sunday with archery equipment would increase significantly with the expanded use of crossbows. Obviously, crossbows more closely resemble firearms, and,” Brooks continued, “these rule changes would create a precedent for the use of trigger-activated hunting equipment on Sunday. It is not unrealistic to anticipate that the next step would be an attempt to repeal N.C.G.S. §103-2 to allow hunting with firearms on Sunday.”
Brooks also pointed out that, “North Carolina’s prohibition against hunting on Sunday is based in sound logic that benefits all of the citizens of the state:
• Sunday is presently the only day of the week many outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy recreational activities free from the fear of being shot. Many individuals and families picnic, hike, canoe, horseback ride, climb, cycle, etc. on Sunday knowing they are safe from errant bullets and arrows. Authorizing hunting on Sunday would compromise this safe enjoyment of outdoor recreational activities.
• The current ban on Sunday hunting respects church services and other activitiesespecially in rural areas of the stateand protects them from disruption caused by hunting on Sunday. Many rural churches have services that begin early in the morning and continue well into the afternoon.
• Prohibiting hunting on Sunday allows wildlife to rest and relieves what would otherwise be constant hunting pressure on our natural animal resources.
• Allowing Sunday hunting would strain existing WRC resources, because additional personnel would be required to enforce hunting regulations on Sunday.”
The WRC has a history of seeking to repeal North Carolina’s Sunday hunting law. In December 2006, the Commission voted 9-5 to recommend that the N.C. General Assembly repeal the state’s Sunday hunting law. What makes this action so remarkable is that the vote was taken immediately after the WRC received the results of an extensive statewide survey it had commissioned showing that two-thirds of North Carolinians support the ban on Sunday hunting. The study also showed that a majority of hunters (53 percent) support the ban.
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