Wildlife Commission Director urges continued compliance with COVID-19 restrictions

Published 5:05 pm Friday, April 17, 2020

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Across our state, North Carolinians are adapting to practicing social distancing and avoiding mass gatherings, including while using N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission game lands, boat ramps, public fishing areas and other areas.

“We deeply appreciate the steps people are taking to recreate responsibly while enjoying the outdoors,” said Gordon Myers, the agency’s executive director, who urges continued compliance to keep these areas open for public benefit.

His message comes after the U.S. Forest Service announced it was closing specific roads, trail access, recreational areas and camping in Pisgah National Forest, which comprises 500,000 acres and is one of the largest tracts of public land in North Carolina.

According to a U.S. Forest Service representative, hunting and fishing are still permitted as long as people adhere to the aforementioned closures, including staying off the closed roads and trails and not parking at trailheads or camping.

It is paramount that people visiting agency access areas continue to follow social distancing and mass gathering requirements. These requirements are:

  • Individuals using shared or outdoor spaces when outside their residence must, at all times and as much as reasonably possible, maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any other person, with the exception of family or household members.
  • Events or gatherings that bring together more than 10 persons into a single space at the same time are prohibited.

“This is a time for each of us to work together to be part of the solution and not the problem,” Myers said. “We are asking everyone who visits a boat ramp, a game land, a fishing access area, to do your part when using any of these areas. In order to keep these doorways to North Carolina’s public trust resources open, we are relying on the compliance of every person.”

On March 27, Gov. Roy Cooper issued Executive Order 121, which instituted a stay at home order and strategic directions for a statewide, unified response to the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the state. Under EO121, all North Carolinians were directed to stay at home, except as authorized in the Order. Outdoor activities are allowed under EO121, however, individuals must, with the full force and effect of law, comply with the following social distancing and mass gatherings requirements.

Please note that local emergency orders may require more stringent standards. Prior to engaging in outdoor activities, check local government emergency orders for specific requirements.

Hunting, fishing, boating and many other wildlife-associated activities can be accomplished in compliance with those requirements; however, based on field observation from law enforcement and other agency professionals over the past week, some people continue to disregard the requirements. Those actions raise the clear and present danger of increased community spread of COVID-19.

Due to the COVID-19 virus, the sales counter at the Wildlife Commission’s headquarters in Raleigh is closed. We encourage the public to visit our website, www.ncwildlife.org, to purchase fishing, trapping and hunting licenses and to renew vessel registrations.

The Commission’s license, vessel registration, and wildlife helpline call centers are open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. For the most up-to-date information on agency-related closures, cancellations and postponements visit ncwildlife.org/covid19.