Permits to hunt coyotes on private property from one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset in Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell and Washington counties will be available through a free, self-serve process after 5 p.m. Thursday at www.ncwildlife.org.
Hunters will be required to report all coyotes killed in the five-county area.
In North Carolina's other 95 counties, including in Western North Carolina, hunting regulations allow coyote hunting on private land at any time, day or night, with no bag limit, and on public land at night with a permit.
Coyotes are found in all 100 counties of the state and pose a predatory threat to pets, livestock and native wildlife. Hunting and trapping are effective tools for landowners to manage coyote populations on a localized basis.
The Wildlife Commission will hold a public hearing to receive comments on permanent rules regarding coyote hunting in the five-county red wolf reintroduction area at 7 p.m. March 3 at the Wildlife Commission's headquarters in Raleigh. (Due to winter weather, this was changed from a public hearing scheduled for Feb. 24).
In light of the March 3 Wildlife Commission's public hearing, several groups today voiced their opposition to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission's recently adopted decision to terminate the red wolf recovery program in North Carolina.
The Animal Welfare Institute, in collaboration with Defenders of Wildlife, the Red Wolf Coalition, WildEarth Guardians, Born Free USA, the Endangered Species Coalition, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the National Wolfwatcher Coalition, issued a written appeal to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asking the department to oppose the resolutions by the N.C Wildlife Commission that call for the termination of the Red Wolf Recovery program and demand the removal of red wolves from private lands.
"The NCWRC is calling for the extinction of an endangered species in the wild for no valid reason whatsoever," Tara Zuardo, wildlife attorney at AWI, said in a statement.
"Termination of this program would set a dangerous precedent under the Endangered Species Act, allowing the recovery of endangered species to be abandoned in order to satisfy the narrow self-interest of a few individuals in a given state."
The letter explains that the NCWRC, by requesting that the federal government terminate the program, is calling for the extinction of an endangered species, acting on unsubstantiated claims of impact by landowners, and defending previously debunked assertions about coyote-red wolf hybridization.
AWI, Defenders, and the RWC previously reached a settlement agreement with NCWRC in November to promote red wolf conservation. Zuardo said the NCWRC's resolutions are specifically tailored to undercut this agreement.
The organizations are advocating for the continuation of the Red Wolf Recovery program, which has been highly successful in reintroducing and maintaining the world's only wild population of the critically endangered red wolf.
There are only an estimated 200 red wolves in captivity today (including two at the WNC Nature Center in Asheville) and only 100 roaming the wild today. Red wolves and coyotes can appear to look very similar.
See the full text of the appeal letter: http://awionline.org/sites/default/files/press-release/WL-AWI-RedWolf-ResponsetoResolutions-02242015.pdf.
AWI and the other wildlife groups encourage North Carolina residents to attend NCWRC's public hearing on the coyote-hunting proposal on March 3.
People who cannot attend the meeting in Raleigh can comment on the NC Wildlife Commissions coyote hunting rules online at https://ncpaws.org/PAWS/WRC/PublicComments/PublicEntry/PublicComments.aspx.
Or mail comments by letter to N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, 1701 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1701. Comments will be accepted through March 16.