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Wildlife Commission mulls fight against coyote hunting ban

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission plans to meet next week to consider its next legal and procedural steps to fight a U.S. District Court judge’s ban on coyote hunting in five northeastern counties.

Judge Terrence Boyle ordered Tuesday that coyote hunting be stopped in Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell and Washington counties, home to the world’s only wild population of endangered red wolves, because the animals look so much alike.

Boyle ruled that the closure will reduce red wolf deaths, which violate the Endangered Species Act. Boyle said he will review his ruling in six months. The preliminary injunction blocks coyote hunting in the counties until the trial in a lawsuit that aims to permanently end hunting near the red wolf territory.

Red wolves were believed to be extinct in the wild. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service bred them in captivity for seven years before reintroducing about 100 of them into the wilderness in 1987. Some have been mistaken for coyotes and killed. The two species sometimes interbreed, creating hybrid animals that can appear similar to both.

The Southern Environmental Law Center sued the Wildlife Resources Commission on behalf of three other groups in an effort to put an end to red wolf killings. Some red wolves wearing radio transmission collars that indicate the animal’s locations have been shot.

The commission voted last July to allow coyote hunting at any time of day with no bag limit on private land and on public land even at night with lights if the hunter has a permit. Coyote hunting was previously limited to daylight hours.

“By authorizing coyote hunting in the five-county red wolf recovery area, and in particular by authorizing coyote hunting during all seasons and at any time day or night, the commission has increased the likelihood that a red wolf will be shot,” Boyle wrote in his order.

“Upon initial review, it appears that the order provides the exact same level of protection to coyotes — an invasive, non-native species — as is afforded to red wolves,” Wildlife Commission executive director Gordon Myers said.

Both wolves and coyotes may be shot if they are attacking people or are in the act of killing livestock.

Adult red wolves are an average of about 20 pounds heavier than coyotes, but both stand about 2 feet tall at the shoulder and are about 4 feet long with their tail. Both species have similar coloration.

“The commission is deeply concerned about the potential impacts this ruling will have on private landowners, hunters and native wildlife, said Jim Cogdell, chairman of the board that oversees the agency. Observer News Services

New access area being built on Uwharrie

Access to the Uwharrie River will be improved soon with the construction of a new launch area for anglers using small boats, kayakers and canoe enthusiasts.

The site is in Montgomery County at the Highway 109 Bridge northwest of the town of Troy.

The spot has been used informally for years. It’s on unused N.C. Department of Transportation right-of-way left over from a bridge realignment project.

The new area will have parking spaces, a stairway to the river and a canoe slide for the launching and retrieving of these craft. Completion is expected by July 1.

It’s the second access area on the river. The other is located approximately 7 miles upstream near the Low Water Bridge.

The Uwharrie River winds for miles through central North Carolina after rising near Thomasville, eventually flowing into the Pee Dee River to help form Lake Tillery Observer News Services

Briefly

•  According to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, the statewide deer harvest in 2013 totaled 225,806, a 4 percent increase over the previous year. An estimated 124,482 were bucks. Since 1997, DNR’s wildlife section has used a random mail survey to determine the harvest.

•  Ken Tucker and Patrick Ciucevich teamed to win a recent NC-CATS tournament at Lake Norman with two fish weighing 72.2 pounds. That included the biggest catfish of the event, a flathead scaling 45.63 pounds. Shane Queen and Toby Griffin finished second with two catfish weighing 60.52 pounds.

Catches of the week

•  A limit of 20 crappie at Cane Creek Park Lake by Ken Tisdale of Locust.

•  A wahoo of 50.4 pounds off Ocean Isle by the party of Scott Hamilton, Brent and Matt Elliott.

•  A dolphin of 42.85 pounds off Ocean Isle by Patrick Bellamy and party while fishing from the Mining My Bidness.

•  A 38.1-pound cobia at Oak Island Pier by Ron Brewer.

•  A 44-inch red drum near Nags Head by Sabra Basnight.

•  A haul of 23 cobia out of Oregon Inlet for guide Juston Stewart and party. The largest weighed 50 pounds.

•  A white marlin boated and released off Hatteras Village by Lena Santana of High Point while fishing from the Sea Creature.

•  A 31-pound grouper off Hatteras by Jason Finger of Lincolnton.

•  A blue marlin boated and released off Hatteras by William Young of Prosperity, S.C., while trolling from the Bite Me.

•  A 9 1/4 -pound blue at Bogue Inlet Pier by Mike Davis of Greenville.

•  A 52-inch muskie on 12-pound test line at Lake St. Clair, Mich., by Rick Jones of Hickory.

•  Just reported, a 42-inch red drum in the surf at Cape Point on Hatteras Island earlier this month by Ashley Brown of Charlotte while fishing with /her husband, Lance.

•  A 9-pound largemouth bass at Lake Monroe in Union County by Wes Brooks of Monroe.

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