(8/23) A resolution to be considered at the Sept. 4
town meeting to suspend hunting and trapping on town land would not lead to
efforts to stop hunting activities on town lands altogether, according to its
Resident Larry Little expressed concerns at the Aug. 7
town meeting that the proposal looked like an attempt to end hunting on town
lands. Little added that hunting is a "long and proud industry" and generates
hundreds of millions of dollars for Maryland. "Don't turn our commissioners
into wildlife management," he said.
However, Commissioner William B. O'Neil Jr., who
informally presented the draft resolution to the board at the Aug. 7 meeting,
told The Dispatch that the temporary moratorium on hunting and trapping was
intended to give the town time to develop wildlife management practices to
protect natural assets and human safety, including hunters, and was not a
strategy to end hunting.
Use others' best management practices
O'Neil said he did not think developing the wildlife
management area could drag on like the town's comprehensive plan work, since
what is required would mostly be adopting existing best management practices
from other some local and state governments and tailoring them to Emmitsburg.
Establishing wildlife management rules would be
essentially a three-step process. First, there would be a temporary stay on
town-issued hunting permits for town land (the proposed resolution). Second,
the commissioners would need to adopt an ordinance declaring certain lands
within the town as wildlife management areas subject to an approved set of
wildlife management guidelines, the creation of which would be the third step
in the process.
A number of stated objectives would ultimately be
addressed by a wildlife management plan, including:
- Protection of a "sustainable and diverse wildlife
population (in essence, assuring no native animal - including beavers - would
be hunted to extermination);"
- Establishment of wildlife-dependent recreation areas
(nature trails); and
- Protection of ecologically sensitive areas and
threatened and endangered plants and animals.
O'Neil also proposed that any future guidelines include
property boundary markers demarking town lands along with a review and
evaluation of any existing no-fire (safety) zones, which are given to hunters
when they apply for hunting permits. Fishing would not be covered under the
moratorium because of its low impact on ecology and safety.
Beavers and wayward shots inspired action
Recent public concerns over proposed plans by the town
to exterminate the beaver population at Rainbow Lake and reports of shots fired
from town property into private land prompted interest in establishing wildlife
Although administrators said the town did not intend to
continue killing the beavers, the board of commissioners took measures to
ensure that they would first approve any such proposal in the future.
Both Catherine Forrence and her mother, Betsey, had
stated at a town meeting that shots had been fired, apparently by hunters, from
town land into property owned by Betsey Forrence.
O'Neil's plan would involve Maryland Department of
Natural Resources in developing both safety strategies and providing wildlife
Some prevention methods that might be used to protect
property owners next to land where hunting is taking place could include
well-marked boundaries and even berms to impede a hunter's line-of-sight,
although they would not block those hunting from trees.
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