Hunting buffer zones sought in Wayland city

By: 
Virginia Ransbottom, Staff Writer

Wayland City Council members will be deciding whether to amend the city’s hunting ordinance to include a safety buffer zone between hunters, public schools and private property owners.

In city limits, firearms hunting is prohibited but bow hunting is not since large areas of the city are zoned residential/agricultural.

“Instead of banning hunting altogether, we allow hunters to have the ability to hunt those areas,” said mayor pro-tem Jennifer Antel.

At the council meeting Monday, Nov. 20, a public hearing was set for Dec. 18, to add a 450 foot (150 yard) safety zone from adjacent residential or publicly owned land for the discharge of a slingshot or bow and arrow at wild game or hunting activity.

The ordinance amendment was made at the request of council member Rick Mathis and his neighbor Nathan Cardosa. Cordosa spoke during public comments saying he was concerned for the safety of his young children after a hunter placed deer blinds 25 yards from his property on Voyager Drive.

Mathis said he lives in the same area where a hunter shot a doe that ran onto school property.

“It died 10 feet from my children’s play area,” he said. “And a stray arrow can travel up to 100 yards,” he said.

Mathis said many people are unaware that although hunters cannot hunt deer on school property, they can retrieve it if it runs onto public property. Hunters must have permission to retrieve it if it goes onto private property, he said.

Council member Tim Rose asked if the ordinance amendment would affect target shooting.

Mathis said it would not since target shooting is not discharging at wild game or a hunting activity.

While the DNR prohibits discharge of a firearm 450 feet (or 150 yards) from any structure, which could be occupied by a person, Mathis and Cardosa said they’d like the same safety zone applied to bow hunting in city limits.

Antel said a 150-yard safety zone from public land would include a big section on the other side of the Rabbit River Nature Trail Park.

Mathis said it would give a safety zone to those walking the trail.

Virginia Ransbottom can be contacted at vransbottom@allegannews.com or at (269) 673-5534.

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