Out and About in North Carolina's Woods and Waters

Outdoor Notes

It’s Coyote Pupping Season

Coyotes are common in all 100 counties of North Carolina and although they are generally elusive and avoid people, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) reports that coyote sightings peak in May as they ramp up their activity searching day and night for food to support their newborn pups.

Coyotes prefer to build their dens away from human activity, but in North Carolina that can still mean contact with people. As coyotes wander in search of food, which can include wild fruit, small mammals, and this year’s increased number of nutritious cicadas, the animals some Native Americans called “singing dogs” can enter residential areas, especially if food is plentiful. Coyotes will take advantage of pet food left outdoors, food scraps and other tasty tidbits around homes. Smaller pets such as cats and small-breed dogs should always be closely supervised when outdoors, as they can easily be mistaken for natural prey.

Dog-proof fencing, at least 6 feet tall and built to prevent digging underneath, is the only guarantee of a no-coyote zone, but there are other ways to keep coyotes from hanging around. “You must remove anything that could attract coyotes and actively make the area uncomfortable for them,” says Falyn Owens, extension biologist for the Wildlife Commission. Owens offers these tips to deter coyotes:

  • Remove all outdoor pet food, fallen fruit, food waste and bird feeders.
  • Keep cats and small dogs on a leash or harness whenever they’re outside.
  • Haze coyotes away from homes and businesses.

Hazing can be as simple as waving your arms and shouting forcefully until a coyote leaves. Spraying them with a water hose or throwing small rocks in their direction can also alert coyotes they’re not welcome in the area. Coyotes rarely attack people, preferring to avoid us entirely or keep their distance. If you are walking a small dog and a coyote seems to take interest, pick up the dog and act threatening toward the coyote. They are opportunistic hunters and prefer an easy meal over one that puts them at risk.

Striped Bass Seasons on Roanoke River

The season for harvest of striped bass in the Roanoke River will remain open through April 30 in the upper river zone (upstream of the Hwy. 258 bridge at Scotland Neck to the base of Roanoke Rapids Dam). During the harvest period, the minimum length is 18 inches and no striped bass between 22 and 27 inches (the protective slot) may be possessed at any time. The daily creel limit is two fish, only one of which may be larger than 27 inches.

Cobia Fishing Regulations

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries has announced that the open season for the recreational harvest of cobia will allowed in Coastal Fishing Waters from May 1 through December 31, 2021. Anglers may possess one cobia per day with each fish at least 36 inches fork length. Persons fishing on private (not for hire) vessels may retain 2 cobia per vessel per day (no more than 1 per person) from May 1 – June 30. From July 1 – Dec. 31, it is unlawful to possess more than one cobia per vessel per day. For-hire vessels may possess no more than four cobia per day (one per person) from May 1 – Dec. 31.

Division of Marine Fisheries Will Have A New Head

When Kathy Rawls becomes the new director of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries on May 1, she will be the first woman to head the agency since the Fisheries Commission Board became the Division of Commercial Fisheries in the late 1920s. Rawls has been with the NCDMF for more than 25 years. She began her career at the Division of Marine Fisheries in 1990 as a river herring technician, a position she held for three years, before leaving to work on her family’s farm while also operating a private business. Rawls returned to the DMF in 1999 as a technician on a striped bass project, and worked her way up to Biologist Supervisor, a position she held for eight years until May 2011 when she was promoted to manager of the division’s Northern District, based in Elizabeth City. She became Fisheries Management Section Chief in April 2014.

Rawls, 53, was grew up in Windsor, N.C., graduated from Lawrence Academy in Merry Hill and earned a bachelor’s degree in marine biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 1989. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends fishing, going to the beach, camping and riding 4-wheelers on the family farm.

Hunting Seasons

Wild Turkey: through May 8; Limit is one bearded bird per day, two for the season.

Coyotes & Feral Hogs: no closed season

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