Written by attorney Bill Powers

North Carolina Hunting Laws

Very interesting article in the Charlotte Observer today regarding duck hunting on regional lake, where local hunters fired in an area that is appears to be residential in nature.

This post and other subsequent materials are for the purpose to flesh out the different legal issues, to review the status of the law(s) in North Carolina and to facilitate discussion on whether changes, if any, are appropriate to North Carolina General Statutes.

It is important to note from media reports, it APPEARS the matter took place in Iredell County and not within the City Limits of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Here's the Charlotte Observer article:

Duck hunt in Lake Norman cove angers homeowner By Joe Marusak [email protected] By Joe MarusakThe Charlotte Observer Posted: Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011

Modified: Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011

Tricia Schurmeier looks out at the cove from her Lake Norman backyard. On Nov. 12, she said, hunters in a boat fired at ducks grouped on the shore. Davie Hinshaw - [email protected]

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MOORESVILLE Shotgun blasts pierced the morning quiet outside Tricia Schurmeier's Lake Norman home as two hunters fired from a boat at mallards huddled at her neighbor's dock.

She ran outside in her bare feet and pajamas and yelled and screamed at the men, asking them what they were doing.

Nov. 12 was opening day of a duck-hunting season in North Carolina. What they were doing was perfectly legal, one of the men told her.

"That is NOT hunting," Schurmeier replied. "You are slaughtering poor defenseless ducks cowering by a dock along the shore. You can't do that. I'm calling the sheriff."

" 'Go ahead,' " one of the hunters calmly told her, she said. " 'What we're doing is legal. It's duck-hunting season.' "

The encounter illustrates how, despite thousands of waterfront homes in four counties, North Carolina's largest manmade lake also is a public waterway, where fishing and hunting have always been popular.

As homes proliferated over the decades, the question has been how they can best co-exist.

Schurmeier comes from a family of hunters. Her brother hunts deer, and her dad loved to hunt. But hunters have no business firing guns so close to homes, she said; what if children had been outside playing?

Schurmeier said she was devastated. One of the ducks lay dying in her neighbor's yard until one of the hunters got permission to retrieve it and then tossed it into a blue round tub, she said.

"I am not against hunting in the right environment," she said. "But in my backyard? I see a huge safety factor there."

A hunter could face a misdemeanor charge of negligent hunting for any property damage, said Sgt. Jeremy Harrill, enforcement supervisor in Iredell and Davie counties for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

But hunters have every right to hunt wildlife to a private property's high-water mark at the lake, Harrill said. "Lake Norman is actually a very good place to duck hunt," he said.

Property owners who feed ducks and other wildlife could contribute to their demise, Harrill said. Ducks clustering for food tossed along the shore are easy targets for a hunter's gun, he said.

As wildlife, ducks know what to eat in the wild. They don't need homeowners' handouts, he said.

Hunters, meanwhile, are the largest contributors to wildlife conservation through the special fees and taxes they pay, he said.

Schurmeier said hunters should spend their time roaming the many miles of still undeveloped land along Lake Norman, not the lake's coves dotted with homes. Her cove was secluded when her family moved there 16 years ago, she said, but not anymore.

She said she intends to gather signatures on a petition for a law banning hunting in such residential areas. She intends to contact state legislators who represent Iredell County in the General Assembly.

Gathering signatures and lobbying legislators will be a good project for her daughter, Emma, 13, to work on, she said. Emma was traumatized by what happened, Schurmeier said.

"I want the homeowners on Lake Norman to know that, although it is duck-hunting season, the scenario in my 'backyard' does not constitute hunting, and they need to be aware," Schurmeier said. "Any law that supports this practice needs to be changed. Any man or woman found 'hunting' in this manner needs to be prosecuted for cruelty to animals."

Her family loved calling to the ducks and feeding them deer corn, she said. They haven't seen any since the day the hunters came.

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