113-136. Enforcement authority of inspectors and protectors; refusal to obey or allow inspection by inspectors and protectors.

(a) Inspectors and protectors are granted the powers of peace officers anywhere in this State, and beyond its boundaries to the extent provided by law, in enforcing all matters within their respective subject-matter jurisdiction as set out in this section.

(b) The jurisdiction of inspectors extends to all matters within the jurisdiction of the Department set out in this Subchapter, Part 5D of Article 7 of Chapter 143B of the General Statutes, Article 5 of Chapter 76 of the General Statutes, and Article 2 of Chapter 77 of the General Statutes, and to all other matters within the jurisdiction of the Department which it directs inspectors to enforce. In addition, inspectors have jurisdiction over all offenses involving property of or leased to or managed by the Department in connection with the conservation of marine and estuarine resources.

(c) The jurisdiction of protectors extends to all matters within the jurisdiction of the Wildlife Resources Commission, whether set out in this Chapter, Chapter 75A, Chapter 143, Chapter 143B, or elsewhere. The Wildlife Resources Commission is specifically granted jurisdiction over all aspects of:

(1) Boating and water safety;

(2) Hunting and trapping;

(3) Fishing, exclusive of fishing under the jurisdiction of the Marine Fisheries Commission; and

(4) Activities in woodlands and on inland waters governed by G.S. 106-908 to G.S. 106-910.

In addition, protectors have jurisdiction over all offenses involving property of or leased by the Wildlife Resources Commission or occurring on wildlife refuges, game lands, or boating and fishing access areas managed by the Wildlife Resources Commission. The authority of protectors over offenses on public hunting grounds is governed by the jurisdiction granted the Commission in G.S. 113-264(c).

(c1) Inspectors and protectors have jurisdiction to enforce the provisions of Article 19B of Chapter 106 of the General Statutes pursuant to and within the parameters of a formal agreement entered into under G.S. 106-202.15(10).

(d) Inspectors and protectors are additionally authorized to arrest without warrant under the terms of G.S. 15A-401(b) for felonies, for breaches of the peace, for assaults upon them or in their presence, and for other offenses evincing a flouting of their authority as enforcement officers or constituting a threat to public peace and order which would tend to subvert the authority of the State if ignored. In particular, they are authorized, subject to the direction of the administrative superiors, to arrest for violations of G.S. 14-223, 14-225, 14-269, and 14-277.

(d1) In addition to law enforcement authority granted elsewhere, a protector has the authority to enforce criminal laws under the following circumstances:

(1) When the protector has probable cause to believe that a person committed a criminal offense in his presence and at the time of the violation the protector is engaged in the enforcement of laws otherwise within his jurisdiction; or

(2) When the protector is asked to provide temporary assistance by the head of a State or local law enforcement agency or his designee and the request is within the scope of the agency's subject matter jurisdiction.

While acting pursuant to this subsection, a protector shall have the same powers invested in law enforcement officers by statute or common law. When acting pursuant to (2) of this subsection a protector shall not be considered an officer, employee, or agent for the state or local law enforcement agency or designee asking for temporary assistance. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to expand the authority of protectors to initiate or conduct an independent investigation into violations of criminal laws outside the scope of their subject matter or territorial jurisdiction.

(e) Inspectors and protectors may serve arrest warrants, search warrants, orders for arrest, criminal summonses, subpoenas, and all other process connected with any cases within their subject-matter jurisdiction. In the exercise of their law enforcement powers, inspectors are subject to provisions relating to police officers in general set out in Chapter 15, Chapter 15A, and elsewhere.

(f) Inspectors and protectors are authorized to stop temporarily any persons they reasonably believe to be engaging in activity regulated by their respective agencies to determine whether such activity is being conducted within the requirements of the law, including license requirements. If the person stopped is in a motor vehicle being driven at the time and the inspector or protector in question is also in a motor vehicle, the inspector or protector is required to sound a siren or activate a special light, bell, horn, or exhaust whistle approved for law-enforcement vehicles under the provisions of G.S. 20-125(b) or 20-125(c).

(g) Protectors may not temporarily stop or inspect vehicles proceeding along primary highways of the State without clear evidence that someone within the vehicle is or has recently been engaged in an activity regulated by the Wildlife Resources Commission. Inspectors may temporarily stop vehicles, boats, airplanes, and other conveyances upon reasonable grounds to believe that they are transporting seafood products; they are authorized to inspect any seafood products being transported to determine whether they were taken in accordance with law and to require exhibition of any applicable license, receipts, permits, bills of lading, or other identification required to accompany such seafood products.

(h), (i) Repealed by Session Laws 1979, c. 830, s. 1.

(j) The refusal of any person to stop in obedience to the directions of an inspector or protector acting under the authority of this section is unlawful. A violation of this subsection is a Class 3 misdemeanor and may include a fine of not less than fifty dollars ($50.00).

(k) It is unlawful to refuse to exhibit upon request by any inspector, protector, or other law enforcement officer any item required to be carried by any law or rule as to which inspectors or protectors have enforcement jurisdiction. The items that must be exhibited include boating safety or other equipment or any license, permit, tax receipt, certificate, or identification. It is unlawful to refuse to allow inspectors, protectors, or other law enforcement officers to inspect weapons or equipment if the officer reasonably believes them to be possessed incident to an activity regulated by any law or rule as to which inspectors and protectors have enforcement jurisdiction and the officer has a reasonable suspicion that a violation has been committed, except that an officer may inspect a shotgun to confirm whether it is plugged or unplugged without a reasonable suspicion that a violation has been committed. It is unlawful to refuse to allow inspectors, protectors, or other law enforcement officers to inspect fish or wildlife for the purpose of ensuring compliance with bag limits and size limits. Except as authorized by G.S. 113-137, nothing in this section gives an inspector, protector, or other law enforcement officer the authority to inspect, in the absence of a person in apparent control of the item to be inspected, any of the following:

(1) Weapons.

(2) Equipment, except for equipment left unattended in the normal operation of the equipment, including, but not limited to, traps, trot lines, crab pots, and fox pens.

(3) Fish.

(4) Wildlife.

(l) Nothing in this section authorizes searches within the curtilage of a dwelling or of the living quarters of a vessel in contravention of constitutional prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures. (1915, c. 84, s. 6; 1917, c. 290, s. 2; C.S., s. 1885; 1935, c. 118; 1957, c. 1423, s. 2; 1965, c. 957, s. 2; 1973, c. 1262, ss. 18, 28, 86; c. 1286, s. 17; c. 1297; 1977, c. 771, s. 4; 1979, c. 830, s. 1; 1987, c. 641, ss. 20, 22; c. 827, s. 98; 1991, c. 730, s. 1; 1997-80, s. 5; 1998-225, ss. 3.1, 3.2; 2011-145, s. 13.25(xx); 2015-263, s. 35(a); 2019-204, s. 8(b).)