113-292.  Authority of the Wildlife Resources Commission in regulation of inland fishing and the introduction of exotic species.

(a)        The Wildlife Resources Commission is authorized to authorize, license, regulate, prohibit, prescribe, or restrict all fishing in inland fishing waters, and the taking of inland game fish in coastal fishing waters, with respect to:

(1)        Time, place, character, or dimensions of any methods or equipment that may be employed in taking fish;

(2)        Seasons for taking fish;

(3)        Size limits on and maximum quantities of fish that may be taken, possessed, bailed to another, transported, bought, sold, or given away.

(b)        The Wildlife Resources Commission is authorized to authorize, license, regulate, prohibit, prescribe, or restrict:

(1)        The opening and closing of inland fishing waters, whether entirely or only as to the taking of particular classes of fish, use of particular equipment, or as to other activities within the jurisdiction of the Wildlife Resources Commission; and

(2)        The possession, cultivation, transportation, importation, exportation, sale, purchase, acquisition, and disposition of all inland fisheries resources and all related equipment, implements, vessels, and conveyances as necessary to implement the work of the Wildlife Resources Commission in carrying out its duties.

To the extent not in conflict with provisions enforced by the Department, the Wildlife Resources Commission may exercise the powers conferred in this subsection in coastal fishing waters pursuant to its rule of inland game fish in such waters.

(c)        The Wildlife Resources Commission is authorized to make such rules pertaining to the acquisition, disposition, transportation, and possession of fish in connection with private ponds as may be necessary in carrying out the provisions of this Subchapter and the overall objectives of the conservation of wildlife resources.

(c1)      The Wildlife Resources Commission is authorized to issue proclamations suspending or extending the hook-and-line season for striped bass in the inland and joint waters of coastal rivers and their tributaries, and the Commission may delegate this authority to the Executive Director. Each proclamation shall state the hour and date upon which it becomes effective, and shall be issued at least 48 hours prior to the effective date and time. A permanent file of the text of all proclamations shall be maintained in the office of the Executive Director. Certified copies of proclamations are entitled to judicial notice in any civil or criminal proceeding.

The Executive Director shall make reasonable effort to give notice of the terms of any proclamation to persons who may be affected by it. This effort shall include press releases to communications media, posting of notices at boating access areas and other places where persons affected may gather, personal communication by agents of the Wildlife Resources Commission, and other measures designed to reach persons who may be affected. Proclamations under this subsection shall remain in force until rescinded following the same procedure established for enactment.

(d)       The Wildlife Resources Commission is authorized to authorize, license, regulate, prohibit, prescribe, or restrict anywhere in the State the acquisition, importation, possession, transportation, disposition, or release into public or private waters or the environment of zoological or botanical species or specimens that may threaten the introduction of epizootic disease or may create a danger to or an imbalance in the environment inimical to the conservation of wildlife resources. This subsection is not intended to give the Wildlife Resources Commission the authority to supplant, enact any conflicting rules, or otherwise take any action inconsistent with that of any other State agency acting within its jurisdiction.

(e)        It is unlawful for any person to:

(1)        Release or place exotic species of wild animals or wild birds in an area for the purpose of stocking the area for hunting or trapping;

(2)        Release or place species of wild animals or wild birds not indigenous to that area in an area for the purpose of stocking the area for hunting or trapping;

(3)        Take by hunting or trapping any animal or bird released or placed in an area in contravention of subdivisions (1) and (2) of this subsection, except under a permit to hunt or trap which may be issued by the Wildlife Resources Commission for the purpose of eradicating or controlling the population of any species of wildlife that has been so released or placed in the area. (1965, c. 957, s. 2; 1973, c. 1262, s. 18; 1979, c. 830, s. 1; 1983, cc. 555, 615; 1987, c. 827, s. 98; 1991, c. 104, s. 1; c. 636, s. 8; 2003-344, s. 9.)