Fellow duck hunters, I just sent this letter to the Craven County Commissioners:
Mr. Thomas F. Mark
Chairman, Craven County Board of Commissioners
5504 Blackbeard Lane
New Bern, NC 28560-6410
Dear Mr. Mark:
I am not a citizen of your county, I am a concerned citizen of this state. It is my understanding that the Craven County Board of Commissioners is discussing the possibility of petitioning the North Carolina General Assembly for a “local law” that limits the rights of citizens in your county and citizens of the State of North Carolina to rights guaranteed them under the North Carolina Public Trust Doctrine (NCPTD).
The following excerpt from the May 4th Sun Journal initiated my concern:
“Concerns presented by one property owner this spring prompted the board to draft proposed legislation on safe distances for hunting migratory wild waterfowl with the idea of asking that it be introduced as local legislation in this year’s General Assembly session.
The proposed local law, on which commissioners have not yet acted, would make it unlawful to take migratory wild waterfowl within 500 years of another person’s permanently established hunting location except in certain circumstances.
Those exceptions include hunting on a person’s own land or where a person has the landholder’s permission to hunt, within the riparian water area of those locations, or if a hunter who has legally shot a migratory bird comes within 500 yards “while in active pursuit of a visible, crippled bird.”
If commissioners decide to pursue local legislation for the regulation after hearing public comment, they can adopt a resolution for the local legislative delegation asking that a local bill be introduced.” (1)
(1) By Sue Book, Sun Journal Staff
Published: Sunday, May 4, 2014 at 18:15 PM.
The North Carolina Public Trust Doctrine helps protect every citizen’s rights to North Carolina’s wonderful outdoors. If you are not aware of the NCPTD if is described in North Carolina General Statute 1-45.1. The statute is as follows:
§ 1-45.1. No adverse possession of property subject to public trust rights:
Title to real property held by the State and subject to public trust rights may not be
acquired by adverse possession. As used in this section, "public trust rights" means those
rights held in trust by the State for the use and benefit of the people of the State in
common. They are established by common law as interpreted by the courts of this State.
They include, but are not limited to, the right to navigate, swim, hunt, fish, and enjoy all
recreational activities in the watercourses of the State and the right to freely use and enjoy the State's ocean and estuarine beaches and public access to the beaches.
It has consistently been the law of this jurisdiction that lands and waters held by the
sovereign in trust for the public cannot be conveyed by the State so as to deprive the
public of its rights therein, except for legislatively authorized public purposes furthering
In my opinion Craven county would be overstepping their lawful authority and grant special privileges to a very limited number of individuals and this action does do not meet the criteria of “except for legislatively authorized public purposes furthering the trust.”
In my mind the simplest way to view the impact of this is:
If a person owned 1 acre of land in Craven County on a sound, bay, river or stream covered by NCPTD then Craven County Board of Commissioners would take the right to use pubic water away from its citizens and grant that property owner exclusive use of up to approximately 40 acres of public water. I do not understand how this is a “public purposes furthering
I reviewed the minutes of the Commission’s meeting and discovered that on April 7,2014 the Board was petitioned as noted in the minutes “ Brent Brewer, Taberna & Adams Creek, addressed the Board regarding duck hunting. He stated there are no laws in Craven County that govern duck hunting, and is seeking legislative help to prevent encroachers at privately owned duck blinds.”
Based on what are stated in the minutes the petition on its face is a falsehood. Please see the NC General Statute that address this issue:
§ 14-159.6. Trespass for purposes of hunting, etc., without written consent a misdemeanor; defense.
(a) Any person who willfully goes on the land, waters, ponds, or a legally established waterfowl blind of another that has been posted in accordance with the provisions of G.S. 14-159.7, to hunt, fish or trap without written permission of the landowner, lessee, or his agent shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. Written permission shall be carried on one's person, signed by the landowner, lessee, or agent, and dated within the last 12 months. The written permission shall be displayed upon request of any law enforcement officer of the Wildlife Resources Commission, sheriff or deputy sheriff, or other law enforcement officer with general subject matter jurisdiction. A person shall have written permission for purposes of this section if a landowner, lessee, or agent has granted permission to a club to hunt, fish, or trap on the land and the person is carrying both a current membership card demonstrating the person's membership in the club and a copy of written permission granted to the club that complies with the requirements of this section.
(b) Any person who willfully goes on the land of another that has been posted in accordance with the provisions of G.S. 14-159.7(1), to rake or remove pine needles or pine straw without the written consent of the owner or his agent shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
(c) It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution under subsection (a) or (b) of this section that the person had in fact obtained prior permission of the owner, lessee, or agent as required by those subsections but did not have on his or her person valid written permission at the time of citation or arrest. (1949, c. 887, s. 1; 1953, c. 1226; 1965, c. 1134; 1975, c. 280, s. 1; 1979, c. 830, s. 11; 1991, c. 435, s. 4; 1993, c. 539, s. 99; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 1997-443, s. 19.25(z); 2011-231, s.
In my opinion, Mr. Brewer is not requesting relief from encroachment at a privately owned duck blind he is asking the Craven County Commission to be a party in the theft of of North Carolina citizens’ right to the activities guaranteed them under the North Carolina Public Trust Doctrine. It is a request to take from the many and give to a privileged few.
The same party might argue the same “‘local law” that he is seeking has been granted in other counties under the guise of safety. There is a ground swell of opposition to those local laws and I foresee a court challenge that I believe will overturn them. I think Craven County would be wise not to seek legislation that will soon entangle them is costly legislation.
I think that it is not unreasonable to have rules that instead of giving greedy people exclusive rights to public water ensures a quality outdoor experience. I would recommend a rule, or a ‘local law’, in which no one should hunt within 200 yards of an fixed or floating blind that is occupied more than 30 minutes before legal shooting light and is marked as occupied with a “green” light visible at 200 yards. I also believe a stiff penalty should be imposed on those that post the green light and do not occupy the blind. In my opinion it should be more stringent that the trespassing law.