‘No remedy via the legislature for this new rule’, says Director, ‘Sunday hunting is now legal after nearly 150 years’
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH — The Senate’s State and Local Government Committee on Tuesday shot down a bill that would have given residents of Watauga County a chance to vote on whether to accept the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission’s new Sunday hunting provisions. The defeat means that for the first time in more than a century, Sunday hunting — in the form of bow hunting and falconry — will be allowed from North Carolina’s mountains to its coast.
“Although the new rules do not include hunting with a gun, we can assure you that it is step one toward allowing all hunting on the Lord’s Day,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “We had not championed the Watauga bill but instead hoped lawmakers would see the wisdom in House Bill 1930, legislation that would have completely repealed the Wildlife Resources Commission’s rule change.”
However that bill was never allowed out of committee. Instead, H 1696, sponsored by Rep. Cullie Tarleton (D-Watauga) at the request of the Watauga County Board of Commissioners, passed two committees and was approved by the House. The bill would have allowed the county to hold a referendum in November on whether Watauga wanted to accept the new rules or opt out and keep Sunday hunting illegal, as it has been for some 140 years.
“I don’t know what could be fairer than letting the people decide,” Tarleton said.
However, there was little support among committee members and the bill was soundly defeated.
A representative from the Wildlife Resources Commission told lawmakers that the WRC had held nine public hearings across the state prior to adopting the rule change.
“What’s most disappointing about these two bills being dead is that there is no remedy for this new rule, no way via the Legislature to repeal Sunday hunting,” said the Rev. Creech. “At least if Watauga had kept the right to have a referendum, other communities could have come back and asked for the same opportunity.”
However, he pointed out that such an approach could have led to a patchwork quilt of hunting laws across the state, another less than desirable outcome.
“The WRC has been working toward making Sunday hunting legal for some time,” the Rev. Creech said. “The current rules change is simply an incremental step in that direction.”
Proponents of Sunday hunting say it will give hunters more opportunities to take game, increase income to hunting preserves and provide more revenue to the state via hunting licenses. However, a 2006 study commissioned by the WRC showed little support, even among hunters, for legalizing Sunday hunting.