[whinylib]Oh, my- the horror- the horror[/whinylib]
Suburban deer hunters
Many are bagging game closer to home
By Megan Woolhouse, Globe Staff | February 8, 2006
FRAMINGHAM -- Wayne McCarthy used to travel to the other side of the state to hunt deer; now, he barely has time to warm up the SUV on the way. One of his new favorite spots: just a few miles from Shoppers World -- within earshot of Route 9 and the Mass. Pike.
''We call it suburban hunting," said McCarthy, a retired police lieutenant who lives in Framingham. ''It's kind of wild." From his deer stand, he said, he can see a house, people, and cars going by.
It is open season in suburbia. These days, many hunters have ditched daylong outings for quality time in camouflage. They're bagging game before breakfast from their own backyards -- or nearby land.
''It's funny, we have more people hunting in Eastern Massachusetts than driving west to the Berkshires, where people used to hunt the most," said state wildlife biologist Bill Woytek. ''Now most are hunting inside [Interstate] 495 and from Walpole to the Cape."
The statistics support his observation. Deer kills in Eastern Massachusetts -- more than double those in the rural western part of the state in 2004 -- had risen steadily over the previous three years, according to the state Division of Fish and Wildlife.
Why are hunters sticking closer to home? That's where the game is. With few natural predators, deer, turkey, coyote, and geese have thrived in more developed areas inside I-495, feasting on lawns, shrubs, and garbage.
But the land with more game and more hunters also is home to more residents. In November, a Bellingham woman found a hunter's bullet lodged in her refrigerator after it had penetrated the wall of her house. Some residents in Shrewsbury have complained of hunters trekking through their backyards and perching in trees near the town dump. Hikers in the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge in Sudbury wonder about coexistence with hunters there.
Under state law, hunting can occur on public or private property as long as the property has no signs restricting it. Hunters are prohibited from shooting within 500 feet of a residence or 150 feet of paved roads. All hunters must have a certificate saying they passed an education course before they can obtain a license, and they can only hunt specific animals during times posted on the website for the state's Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. (Among game being hunted now: bobcats, rabbits, coyotes, and foxes).
Some communities, such as Andover, Stoneham, and Watertown, have banned the discharge of firearms, effectively prohibiting hunting with guns within their borders. In others, such as Brookline, Framingham, and Norwood, hunters must receive written permission from the landowner or local officials.
Complaints about hunting in Shrewsbury caught town manager Daniel Morgado off-guard: He was surprised to learn that hunting was legal there.
So was Shrewsbury resident Joy Buck. ''To be allowed in such close proximity to walking/biking trails [and] neighborhoods is amazing," she told selectmen in a letter last month.
Since 1995, the state has recorded 41 hunting accidents. Most involved hunters accidentally shooting themselves or other hunters. None involved nearby nonhunting residents.
Wayne MacCallum, director of the state's Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, said the numbers should ease residents' concerns.
''It clearly is a shock for people from the city when they find out people hunt" in the suburbs," said MacCallum, who grew up hunting in Grafton. His office hears fewer complaints about the hunting itself and more about people using all-terrain vehicles.
Some suburbanites may welcome hunters. Deer chomp on expensive landscaping, spread Lyme disease, and cause auto wrecks.
Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners Action League in Northborough, said suburban development, with its clear-cut lawns, wooded setbacks, and conservation acreage, creates ''deer factories."
As a result, his organization -- the largest gun advocacy group in the state -- finds itself aligned with wildlife conservationists in the battle against sprawl.
Jerry Belair, legislative director for the Newton-based gun control group Stop Handgun Violence, said that while his group doesn't have the resources to campaign for stricter hunting rules, members are concerned about the dangers of firing guns and arrows in populated areas. He added that there is no sport in picking off deer in cemeteries and at landfills.
Suburban ''hunting is not traditional," he said. ''It's ridiculous."
State Senator Stephen M. Brewer, a Barre Democrat, said he and other rural and suburban legislators consider the current state laws sufficient. Brewer, who is vice chairman of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, said state officials can balance the interests of hunters and residents better than local officials.
McCarthy, the Framingham hunter, said his primary concern is that an animal injured by gunfire would run into someone's yard and die there.
''We're not doing anything illegal, and we're certainly not going out to endanger," he said.
Megan Woolhouse can be reached at email@example.com.
Goddamn, I HATE people like this!
I close on my new house Monday. I'm going from a suburb of San Diego to a rural Montana town of < 1000 people. I know EXACTLY what I'm getting into and have no interest or intention of bringing ANY "city" ideas to my new home. I don't want *ANY* of the bullshit that has caused me to flee the PRK coming anywhere NEAR me or my newly adopted state.
I looked long and hard for a location that I could live with just the way it is, not one that I expect to change to accommodate me.
To be fair, there are hunters who do go on land that they have been hunting on for a long time, that is now posted, and do rip off "No Trespassing" signs- but without witnesses, the sign trashers could also be four-wheelers who have an even worse rep up here than hunters.
The concept of open land in MA is long-established law, but people from cities don't know about it, and are shocked to learn of it.
The Europeanization of America presses on...