Migratory Bird Regulations in North Carolina
Federal Protection of Migratory Birds
- Precedence of Federal Laws: Federal laws safeguarding migratory birds (including songbirds, woodpeckers, raptors, and waterfowl) supersede state laws. This means that any activities involving these birds must comply first and foremost with federal regulations.
- Permit Requirement: To take or kill any migratory birds during the closed season, a federal permit is mandatory. This permit is issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
- Penalties for Violations: Non-compliance with these regulations can result in significant legal penalties.
- Contact Information: For details on obtaining permits and understanding federal laws, contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Division of Migratory Bird Permits Section in Atlanta, Georgia at 404-679-7070.
- Issuance Period: From April 1 to August 31, depredation permits can be issued directly from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, particularly when Canada geese are causing damage in commercial agricultural settings.
- Contact for Permit: Those experiencing depredation issues can contact the Commission at 919-707-0050 for assistance and permit information.
Adoption of Federal Seasons and Bag Limits
- State Regulations: North Carolina adopts federal seasons and bag limits on migratory game birds as part of its state regulations, ensuring consistency and compliance with federal standards.
Colonial Waterbird Nesting Areas
- Protected Areas: Coastal islands and beach areas designated as “Colonial Waterbird Nesting” areas are managed to support the nesting populations of various birds like pelicans, terns, gulls, herons, and egrets.
- Access Restrictions: Access to these areas is prohibited from April 1 to August 31, except under special permit conditions. Dogs are also not allowed in these areas during this period.
- Off-season Access: From September 1 to March 30, access is permitted as authorized by the landowner.
Migratory Game Birds – Hunting Stamps and Privileges in North Carolina
Harvest Information Program (HIP) Certification
- Requirement for Hunters: All hunters in North Carolina who intend to hunt migratory game birds (including doves, rails, gallinules, moorhens, woodcock, snipe, or waterfowl) must have a certification of participation in the federal Harvest Information Program (HIP).
- Purpose of HIP: The HIP is designed to help wildlife biologists estimate the number of migratory game birds harvested each season. This information is crucial for the management and conservation of these bird populations.
How to Obtain Certification:
- Online Registration: Hunters can obtain their HIP certification free of charge by registering online at gooutdoorsnorthcarolina.com. This process involves answering a few questions about their previous year's hunting activity.
- Validation: Once completed, the HIP certification is noted on the hunter's license.
Importance of HIP Participation
Participating in the HIP is not only a legal requirement but also a significant contribution to wildlife conservation efforts. The data collected through HIP helps in setting sustainable hunting seasons and bag limits, ensuring the long-term preservation of migratory game bird populations. Hunters play a direct role in this conservation effort by providing accurate information about their hunting activities.
For those planning to hunt migratory game birds in North Carolina, obtaining HIP certification is an essential step in preparation for the hunting season. This ensures compliance with both state and federal regulations and aids in the responsible management of wildlife resources.
Summary of Federal Regulations
In addition to state regulations, the following federal rules apply to the taking, possession, shipping, transporting and storing of migratory game birds. No persons shall take migratory game birds:
- With a trap, snare, net, rifle, pistol, swivel gun, shotgun larger than 10 gauge, punt gun, battery gun, machinegun, fish hook, poison, drug, explosive, or stupefying substance;
- With a shotgun of any description capable of holding more than three shells, unless it is plugged with a one-piece filler, incapable of removal without disassembling the gun, so its total capacity does not exceed three shells. This restriction does not apply during dates states have selected under the Conservation Order for light geese (i.e. snow and Ross’s geese) or those selected for the control of resident Canada geese.
- From or by means, aid, or use of a sinkbox or any other type of low-floating device, having a depression affording the hunter a means of concealment beneath the surface of the water;
- From or by means, aid, or use of any motor vehicle, motor-driven land conveyance, or aircraft of any kind, except that paraplegics and persons missing one or both legs may take from any stationary motor vehicle or stationary motor-driven land conveyance;
- From or by means of any motorboat or other craft having a motor attached, or any sailboat, unless the motor has been completely shut off and/or the sails furled, and its progress there from has ceased except in pursuit of wounded waterfowl in the designated Sea Duck Area;
- By the use or aid of live birds as decoys; although not limited to, it shall be a violation of this paragraph for any person to take migratory waterfowl on an area where tame or captive live ducks or geese are present unless such birds are and have been for a period of 10 consecutive days prior to such taking, confined within an enclosure which substantially reduces the audibility of their calls and totally conceals such birds from the sight of wild migratory waterfowl;
- By the use or aid of recorded or electrically amplified bird calls or sounds, or recorded or electrically amplified imitations of bird calls or sounds. This restriction does not apply during dates states have selected under the Conservation Order for light geese (i.e. snow and Ross’s geese) or those selected for the control of resident Canada geese.
- By means or aid of any motor-driven land, water, or air conveyance, or any sailboat used for the purpose of or resulting in the concentrating, driving, rallying, or stirring up of any migratory bird;
- By the aid of baiting, or on or over any baited area, where a person knows or reasonably should know that the area is or has been baited.
It is legal to take migratory game birds including waterfowl, coots, and cranes, on or over the following lands or areas that are not otherwise baited areas:
- Standing crops or flooded standing crops (including aquatics);
- Standing, flooded, or manipulated natural vegetation; flooded harvested croplands; or lands or areas where seeds or grains have been scattered solely as the result of a normal agricultural planting, harvesting, post-harvest manipulation or normal soil stabilization practice;
- From a blind or other place of concealment camouflaged with natural vegetation;
- From a blind or other place of concealment camouflaged with vegetation from agricultural crops, as long as such camouflaging does not result in the exposing, depositing, distributing or scattering of grain or other feed; or
- Standing or flooded standing agricultural crops where grain is inadvertently scattered solely as a result of a hunter entering or exiting a hunting area, placing decoys, or retrieving downed birds.
It is legal to take migratory game birds, except waterfowl, coots and cranes, on or over lands or areas that are not otherwise baited areas, and where grain or other feed has been distributed or scattered solely as the result of manipulation of an agricultural crop or other feed on the land where grown, or solely as the result of a normal agricultural operation.