The biological staff at NCWRC split the NC bear population in to two geographical groups; the mountains, and the coast. Make no mistake that there are bears in many other parts of the state as bears from Virginia expand into the Piedmont and the bears in the mountains and those at the coast expand towards each other.
The black bear was not so very widespread not all that long ago. Populations were declining and without an effort by hunters, biologists and landowners the bear population would not be as good as it is now. In 1980 the bear population in the mountain was 843 bears and the coast had 737 bears currently (2009) those numbers are 4544 in the mountains and 9306 on the coast. North Carolina developed a number of bear sanctuaries in prime bear habitat areas that really helped the bear bounce back.
We now have the benefit of a growing and expanding bear population that if properly managed will allow for good hunting opportunities for many years to come. NCWRC is currently working on a comprehensive plan on how to manage bears especially as the now move into more populated areas and bear human conflicts continue to rise.
Hunter success rate with the use of baits would increase but would it be as drastic as the biological staff predict? I’m not sure the states they looked at were states that allowed other items besides just natural baits to be used. The main reasons for not allowing baiting according to the biological staff are;
Overharvest concerns due to increase hunter efficiency
Increase nuisance activity in areas that were baited by hunters
Litter and trash issues
Concerns about nutritional impacts and disease transmission on bear populations
Concerns about changes in bear behavior
Ethical and philosophical concerns about using bait
Under the current rules all of these concerns are currently in play because hound hunters are allowed to run their dogs off of baits. The over harvest may not be but that is only because the current season is based on the success rate of bear hunters and while there is no statistics on the success rate of particular hunting methods I think it is safe to assume that 70% of the bears are taken with the aid of hounds.
The problem is where someone is attempting to still hunt bear legally on one property and neighboring lands are being hunted by hound hunters that establish baits to draw bears off the property the still hunter is on.
All hunters in the state deserve to be treated equally by the NCWRC and I don’t think allowing hound hunters to utilize bait while outlawing it for stand hunters is unfair treatment. Either allow it for all or outlaw it for all.