• 59°

Hunting hearing set for Monday

 

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners will conduct a public hearing Monday night to discuss two proposed ordinances that would restrict hunting from roadways in the county.

The issue came up in June when Chocowinity resident Donald Ward presented a petition asking commissioners to ban hunting from highway rights of way. Beaufort County currently has no restrictions on the practice.

Since June, the board’s Animal Control Committee (Commissioners Robert Cayton, Hood Richardson and Al Klemm) has taken a closer look at the issue. They met in August.

At the August meeting of the commissioners, County Attorney Billy Mayo told commissioners that it would take special action of the Legislature to change the current hunting laws. He then presented two proposals the commissioners will consider.

• It shall be unlawful to hunt or discharge a firearm or lethal weapon to take or kill any animal from the right of way of any public road in Beaufort County;

• It shall be unlawful to hunt with or discharge a firearm or lethal weapon from or across any state maintained road or right of way in Beaufort County, except those public roads in Richland Township which do not abut N.C. Highway 306 and N.C. Highway 33.

Cayton said most of the residents who had contacted him would prefer to keep the current roadside-hunting laws.

“The vast majority of the people who have contacted us from the Richland Township — and even from Washington — want to maintain the policy that we have now,” Cayton said.

Cayton would be willing to consider the second proposed ordinance, which he said would have Beaufort County roadside-hunting laws coincide with some neighboring counties that ban hunting from state roads.

Nearby Pamlico County only prohibits right-of-way hunting on N.C. Highway 55 and N.C. 306.

Craven County restricts hunting without a leasehold in specific areas, mostly state roads and within 100 yards of some rivers and creeks.

Richardson sees no need in allowing roadside hunting from any road. He said safety is his greatest concern.

“You’re just as dead if you’re killed on a state highway as you are on a federal highway,” Richardson said.

Richardson found that an overwhelming number of North Carolina counties do not allow right-of-way hunting. For instance, Pitt, Martin and Hyde counties ban all hunting from rights of way.

Pitt and Hyde counties also have several laws banning or restricting the use of dogs for hunting. Richardson stressed that hunting with dogs was not up for discussion or a part of either proposed ordnance currently under consideration.

Richardson said hunting from the rights of way presents a real danger to residents, especially when high-powered rifles were shot along curving roads.

“We’ve had a lot of complaints. We’ve had bullets through houses,” Richardson said.

Anyone interested in speaking at the public hearing may contact County Manager Randell Woodruff at 946-0079 by 3 p.m. Monday to be added to the agenda. Those who are not on the agenda will be given the opportunity to speak at the end of the hearing.

Comments at the meeting will be limited to three minutes per person.

Monday’s meeting will start at 7:30 p.m. in the Superior Courtroom of the Beaufort County Courthouse located at 112 W. Second St.