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Fine, misdemeanor for violators of new hunting law in Beaufort County

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WASHINGTON, N.C. -

It’s that time of year again – rifle hunting season kicks off tomorrow across the East.

But before you pull the trigger, there's a new law in Beaufort County you should know about. 

It’s a controversial issue that, just a year ago, packed the county’s superior courtroom. It was hunters versus landowners in the fight for the right to shoot a gun on or near public roads.

"I don't know what the county can do about it, but something's got to be done,” Donald Ward, who pushed for the new law, told us last year.

Fast-forward and protesters got their wish. County commissioners passed a law this summer that says you cannot shoot a gun or a bow-and-arrow from, on, or across any public road or right-of-way in Beaufort County. It went into effect Oct. 1.

Wildlife Enforcement Officer Murphy Hall says you must now be at least 30 feet from the center yellow line before you shoot. Otherwise, you will face up to a $1000 fine and a Class 3 misdemeanor.

Hall says dozens of complaints and concern for safety spurred the change.

"People shooting from the roadway don't know what's behind their target,” he says. “Whether it be a house, a still hunter, it could be another road with cars, could be kids playing outside. No one really knows."

Right now, there are only six counties left in our state that don't enforce some variation of this law, with Dare County standing alone in the East.     

It’s a movement Hall says makes sense in light of yearly hunting accidents. 

"Our biggest hunting accident would be from tree stand falls,” he says. “But then right below it is hunters mistaking humans for game."

Hall suggests hunters and non-hunters stay aware of their surroundings and wear bright colors - blaze orange works best - to ensure their safety this hunting season.

If you see a violation, give them a call at 1-800-662-7137.

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