Common Wildlife Charges in North Carolina


Over the summer and Fall one of the busiest law enforcement agencies in North Carolina is the Wildlife Division. Wildlife charges can carry long-ranging and severe punishments as well as put matters on your criminal record. If you are charged with a wildlife offense or are in contact with wildlife officers and need help, contact the Criminal Defense team at Jetton and Meredith today.

Some of the most common charges dealing with wildlife officers are:

  1. Hunting or Fishing without a License

The most common wildlife charge in North Carolina is hunting or fishing without a license. If you are 16 years of age or older North Carolina requires a license to hunt or fish on public land, or land that is not their own. Failure to have a license can result in the suspension of your abilities to hunt or fish, a fine, and even jail time. There are two main exceptions to the license requirement in North Carolina: first, you do not need a license to hunt or fish on your own property; and second, you do not need a license if you are a member of the military who is serving out of the state of North Carolina but is here for leave. If you do not fit into these two categories you will need a license. Most licenses in North Carolina can be purchased online and are good for 12 months from the date of purchase.

  1. Hunting Over Bait

North Carolina allows for the hunting of certain animals while using bait, while strictly prohibiting the use of bait to hunt other animals. For instance, it is legal to use some substances (corn, apples, salt, peanut butter) to hunt deer. While using any bait to hunt bear, turkey, or migratory birds is a violation of the law. It is important to scout where you are hunting before you hunt there also because under the law an area is considered baited if there has been any bait within the area in the last 10 days. Violation of these laws will lead to a suspension or revocation of your hunting license, and depending on your prior record can even lead to imprisonment.

  1. Boating Law Violations

Wildlife officers in North Carolina have a lot of authority when it comes to policing the waterways in the state. Unlike a traffic violation, which requires reasonable suspicion to stop a person, North Carolina law allows wildlife officers, boating officers, or other law enforcement to stop any vessel at any time for safety checks, violations, or other investigations.

Some of the most common violations when it comes to boating are:

  1. No Boater’s Safety Education

While there is not a physical license or an endorsement on your driver’s license, as there would be for a vehicle, North Carolina does require people born after January 1, 1988, to carry with them proof that they have completed a NASBLA-approved boating education course in order to operate a vessel with more than 10 horsepower.

  1. Personal Floatation Device violations

Another common violation is not having enough life vests or not having a life vest on a child under the age of 13. The law states that any person riding on a personal watercraft, a jet-ski, or being towed by a vessel must be wearing a Coast guard approved life-vest. Furthermore, the vessel must have on it, enough life vests in the appropriate size available for each person on board the vessel.

  1. No Wake Violations

This is essentially a speeding ticket on the water. When a boat goes past a certain speed, it creates a wake. A no-wake zone is an area that must be clearly marked and defined, and inside of which the operator of a vessel may not travel fast enough to make a wake. Violation of the no wake zone statute can be a class 2 misdemeanor and can be punishable by up to 60 days in jail.