Today’s round of questions, my smart-aleck replies and the real answers:

Question: I remember seeing peacocks roaming around freely at the WNC Nature Center back in the day, but I haven’t seen them for years. Where did they go?

My answer: I have no idea. In unrelated news, have you tried the new peacock taco at Taco Bell, aka “The Peacaco?” Really tasty!

Real answer: I too remember the peacocks at the Nature Center, mainly from when we would take our sons, now in their early 20s, out there when they were youngsters. It appears that the reader’s memories, like mine, stem from the halcyon days of yore.

“We haven’t had peacocks at the Nature Center since 2010,” Director Chris Gentile told me. “We sent our remaining three to Hickory Nut Gap Farm (in Fairview) back then.”

As it turns out, peacocks are beautiful to look at but not terribly hygienic for a zoo or nature center.

“The birds were messy and had a penchant for flying in and out of all of our exhibits, which is not good if you are trying to keep a healthy collection,” Gentile said. “With changing standards for animal health and well-being, we thought it best (to relocate them).”

Olive the River Otter at the WNC Nature Center

An interesting side note here is that very few zoos keep free-roaming peacocks anymore, Gentile said. Way back in the day, peacocks and guinea fowls were kept in part as sacrificial animals in case predators made entry or got loose in zoos.

The WNC Nature Center still has plenty of animals to see, though, as it is home to 60 species of wildlife “that live or have lived in the Southern Appalachian Mountains,” according to the website. 

“Most of our animals have been permanently injured or have been imprinted, meaning they have no fear of humans and never learned the skills they would need to survive in the wild,” the website notes. “ Others have never known a life in the wild or are endangered species that are part of the Special Survival Plan, a breeding and management plan developed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to ensure that we have a sustained population of endangered animals and can conserve them for future generations.”

Question: I want the Answer Man to address the issue of two-month delays in processing concealed carry permit applications. This should take maybe two weeks, but it now drags on for months. To add to the ludicrousness of the situation, this is just a renewal of an existing permit and shouldn’t require extraordinary time to process. Is this just a stalling tactic or what? The folks at the office are super nice but there is a problem with the process.

My answer: If I were one of the few peacocks or guinea fowls left in a zoo as a sacrificial animal, you can bet your feathered derriere I’d have a concealed carry permit.

Real answer: Aaron Sarver, spokesperson for the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office, which administers this program, said the department is in compliance with state law requirements regarding turnaround time for these permits. 

In part, the state law says, “within 45 days after receipt of the items listed in G.S. 14-415.13 from an applicant, and receipt of the required records concerning the mental health or capacity of the applicant, the sheriff shall either issue or deny the permit.”

The sheriff’s office also may conduct any investigation to determine the qualification or competency of the person applying for the permit, including record checks. “The sheriff shall make the request for any records concerning the mental health or capacity of the applicant within 10 days of receipt of the items listed in (the state law).”

Jorge Redmond, senior attorney with the Sheriff’s Office Legal Risk Department, wanted to “clarify any misunderstanding the public may have about this process.”

“The delay this individual or anyone else is experiencing regarding the permit process is not with the county office nor with the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office,” Redmond said via email. “The County ID Bureau staff, along with the sheriff’s support personnel, are doing a fantastic job in meeting the demands for service in the area of pistol purchase and concealed handgun permit.”

He did not have the number of permits processed each month, but Redmond said he could state that “we are processing the permit requests within the timeframe required by the state.”

In part, the law states that “within 45 days after receipt of the items listed in G.S. 14-415.13 from an applicant, and receipt of the required records concerning the mental health or capacity of the applicant, the sheriff shall either issue or deny the permit.”

Redmond highlighted the word “and” above, which I put in italics, because the sheriff’s office has to have those records before moving ahead.

“These records unfortunately are not in our immediate possession until we receive them back from the hospital and/or medical institution, and the timing of receiving all the necessary documents is out of our hands,” Redmond said. “The ‘within 45 days’ mentioned in the statute doesn’t start till after the receipt of ALL the items listed in G.S. 14-415.13 from an applicant, AND receipt of the required records concerning the mental health or capacity of the applicant.”

The upshot is, “There is no stalling tactic being performed by the County ID Bureau staff nor the Sheriff’s office, however there are delays in getting the necessary documentation back from the medical institutions,” Redmond said.

For a renewal, the law states the Sheriff’s Office has to send a written notice to the permit holder at least 45 days before the permit will expire explaining that it’s about to expire and including information about the requirements for renewal of the permit. 

The permit holder then “shall apply to renew the permit within the 90-day period prior to its expiration date by filing with the sheriff of the county in which the person resides a renewal form provided by the sheriff’s office, an affidavit stating that the permittee remains qualified under the criteria provided in this article, a newly administered full set of the permittee’s fingerprints, and a renewal fee.”

The law has a caveat on fingerprints, though. If the applicant’s fingerprints were submitted to the State Bureau of Investigation after June 30, 2001, on the Automated Fingerprint Information System, another set is not required.

Once the Sheriff’s Office gets a completed renewal application and the fee payment, the sheriff then determines if the permittee remains qualified to hold a permit in accordance with the law. The permittee’s criminal history is updated, including another inquiry of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

The sheriff may waive the requirement of taking another firearms safety and training course.

“If the permittee applies for a renewal of the permit within the 90-day period prior to its expiration date and if the permittee remains qualified to have a permit under G.S. 14-415.12, the sheriff shall renew the permit,” the law states. “The permit of a permittee who complies with this section shall remain valid beyond the expiration date of the permit until the permittee either receives a renewal permit or is denied a renewal permit by the sheriff.”

Got a question? Send it to John Boyle at or 828-337-0941.