Board wants hunting law changed

Published 4:59 pm Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners wants the N.C. General Assembly to change the wording of a law that bans roadside hunting in the county because it does not believe the law is enforceable as written.

During its meeting Monday, the board voted 6-1 to ask the Legislature to change the wording of the law so it reflects the language in the resolution submitted by the board. The law, as written now, is the result of modifications to that resolution.

Rep. Michael Speciale, a Republican from Craven County, introduced House Bill 408 on March 21, 2013.

The wording of Speciale’s bill, which became law, was different from the resolution approved by the commissioners in March 2013. The resolution reads “that it is unlawful for a person to hunt, take, or kill any wild animal or game bird with a firearm or bow and arrow in the persons possession from, on, or near the right of way of a public road in Beaufort County.”

The bill read: “It is unlawful to discharge a firearm or bow and arrow, or to attempt to discharge a firearm or bow and arrow from, on, across, or over the roadway or right-of-way of any public road.”

During the board’s meeting Monday, Commissioner Hood Richardson said he’s been advised by law-enforcement officers the law is unenforceable. He wants its wording changed so it can be enforced.

In seeking the ban last year, some commissioners cited safety as a major factor in supporting such a ban.

After the bill was introduced last year, the board unanimously voted to ask Speciale, Rep. Paul Tine, a Democrat from Dare County, and Sen. Bill Cook, a Republican from Beaufort County, to reintroduce the bill after being amended so that it reflected the language in the resolution. However, the bill became law.

Richardson, during the board’s meeting Monday, suggested having Tine introduce legislation to change the law. Other commissioners speculated if it would be better to have Speciale introduce that legislation because he introduced House Bill 408 last year. Asking another legislator to introduce legislation that would change a law that Speciale had a role in bringing about could be problematic, some commissioners said.

“Some of our legislators panicked a little bit because it was about guns and hunting, and they changed the law to the place where the law is unenforceable,” Richardson said during Monday’s meeting. “I saw roadside hunting this year myself. I called the county and I said, ‘We’ve got roadside hunting out here at a certain place, and we shouldn’t have it. Will you call the wildlife officers?’ My understanding … is the wildlife officer said, ‘We’re already on to this. The way the law is worded, it is unenforceable.’ … The way the law was worded was a wildlife officer would have had to been standing watching someone discharge a weapon at game on the road in order to arrest him. You tell me, how many wildlife officers are going to be standing there watching somebody hunt?”

Richardson continued: “They way the (resolution) was originally written, is if you’re out there with a gun and hunting clothes on, you must be hunting, and if you’re in the right of way, it’s against the law. … My resolution … is that we reaffirm the same ordinance that we passed last year and that we send it back to the Legislature to have this wording (in the law) corrected.”

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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