Contact: Bonnie Strawser - 252-473-1131
September 13, 2010
Looking for Hunting Opportunities? Try Local National Wildlife Refuges!
Hunting seasons for several game species have opened, and residents and visitors alike are heading to the wild areas of coastal North Carolina to enjoy a day or more of solitude and nature, as well as a possible dinner or two from the outing. Don't forget that most national wildlife refuges in eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia offer hunting opportunities for the public. A summary of refuge hunting programs may be found at http://www.fws.gov/northcarolina/hunt.html.
Of the eleven national wildlife refuges within a few hours of the Outer Banks, ten have active hunting programs. Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge was closed to waterfowl hunting by Presidential Proclamation when the refuge was established back in the late 1930's. Currently, other game species populations on Pea Island have not been determined to be at a harvestable level. On all the other refuges, the days, areas, species, and weapons allowed may vary, but hunting is a part of the overall function of each of these refuges.
In general, national wildlife refuges offer lots of opportunities to get outside and enjoy natural resources. Some refuges, like Pea Island and Mattamuskeet, attract visitors interested in birding and fishing. Others, like Alligator River and Pocosin Lakes, are the "hot spots" for seeing black bears. Roanoke River offers excellent turkey hunting. The waterfowl hunting blinds associated with Currituck and Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuges are administered by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and available for duck hunters. Mattamuskeet Refuge also offers deer and goose hunting by permits that are issued by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, as well. A pest species, feral hogs, may be hunted on Back Bay and Pocosin Lakes.
Refuge permits are required for most refuge hunts. The NC Wildlife Resources Commission administers hunts on Roanoke River, Mattamuskeet, and Currituck Refuges. On all refuge hunts, a state hunting license is required, and state seasons and bag limits apply. On some refuges, seasons are more restricted than state seasons.
In addition to hunting, most refuges offer other forms of outdoor recreation, such as fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, interpretation, and environmental education. Many refuges have walking trails; some have wildlife drives and paddling trails. There is much to see and do on your local national wildlife refuges.
Mike Bryant, Project Leader for the NC Coastal Plain National Wildlife Refuge Complex, encourages everyone to come out and enjoy refuges, "In eastern North Carolina, we have such diversity among national wildlife refuges. The variety of wildlife and habitats found here and available to refuge visitors in amazing. We hope families will take advantage of the opportunities we provide to reconnect with nature and have great family time outdoors."
Photo caption: Individual refuge hunting/fishing permits and leaflets for the refuges in eastern North Carolina are available at the Fish and Wildlife Service Office at 708 N Hwy 64, Manteo, as well as on location at the individual refuges or online at http://www.fws.gov/northcarolina/hunt.html (follow the links to refuge names). The Pea Island Nighttime Surf Fishing Permit is also available at the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.
Refuge Hunting Regulations & Permits. Photo Credit: Bonnie Strawser, FWS.