Jake's Outdoors » Blog Archive » The Howard County Safety Zone Issue…

The Howard County Safety Zone Issue…

January 20th, 2009

I don’t usually post twice in one day, but I just received a response from Mr. Greg Fox of the Howard County Council.  This is the second response I received, but this one is quite substantial and seems to be well thought out.  It appears that the change in language in the bill is much better now than it was previously.  Here is Mr. Fox’s response:

That is fine that you are not one of my constituents.  I can sure you the max range issue will be addressed.  Please read my updated standard reply:

Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns on CB1-2009.  I can assure you that I have been reviewing both your comments as well as those of other hunters.  I take your concerns very seriously.

At this point, I have spoken to a number of hunters one-on-one as well as discussions with DNR and others.  In addition, I have had two meetings with groups of hunters along with Councilwoman Sigaty.  Working together with other councilmembers, I/we plan on introducing amendments that should alleviate many of the concerns of hunters and others regarding the potential impact of the bill on hunting and deer management efforts while trying to address the fears of other parts of the community.  I believe that there will be support for the amendments from both councilmembers and the executive’s office.

I would also like to provide some additional background on the situation that might help alleviate some concerns as well as provide some foundation for additional discussions.  First, as someone who has been broadsided by a deer while driving in my neighborhood and whose wife suffered for 3 years with Lyme disease, I know first hand the effects of the deer over population.  Second, I don’t believe that it was the intent of the County Executive to effectively ban hunting when the legislation was drafted as I believe he understands the problems with the deer over population. Again, his administration, as well as other councilmembers, has assured me that they are open to any and all amendments and alternatives.

While I was not involved in the actual drafting of the bill, I did provide some level of input in the process as I was concerned that it might be even farther reaching.  The administration did listen to some of my concerns and attempted to incorporated them into the bill such as making sure that the use of shot for bird hunting would not be impacted and the consideration of the use of a deer stand to mitigate some of the distance concerns.  From my initial conversations with hunters, it was believed that this might be a workable solution with some minor tweaks.  This is the key area that still needs discussion from all parties.  As of now, I will be proposing the following and believe that there is support in this direction:
That the current 150 yards remains in place and whenever a person discharges a gun, the person shall:
1)    Ensure that the projectile has a downward trajectory;
2)    Be in a stand or otherwise elevate above the target; OR
3)    Ensure that the projectile has an adequate backdrop (might need to fine tune the language); OR
4)    Use a shotgun that contains only shot.
We are hoping the focus of the hearing will revolve around this portion of the bill and any suggestions are welcome.

The issue of the 10 acres in the non-Metropolitan district was something that was added towards the end and something which I told the administration up front that I could not support.  In subsequent conversations with the administration and a number of other councilmembers, I can assure you that this provision will be removed if anything is passed. However, it should be noted that the 10 acres was not intended (nor worded) to be a 10 acre parcel and that the current law require 150 yard radius is in effect nearly 15 acres of land (not parcel).

Finally, the issue of the nebulous language about how far ammunition MIGHT travel was something that I was not aware of until after the bill was filed.  In hindsight, the administration has told me that it realizes that this would be tough to enforce.  Based on that and a number of the e-mails I have received from hunters’ suggesting that a fine would be appropriate in certain circumstances, I have proposed changing the language accordingly.  Basically, if you damage any facility or  as outlined in the current bill or personal property, including pets and livestock, you would be fined up to $1000, a Class A offense (the maximum allowed under Howard County Law). The language in the original bill discussing IF you could hit a structure would be removed. I believe the removal of the old language and insertion of a fine has near unanimous support.

You are welcome to come out and testify on Wednesday, January 21 at the Board of Education building at 7:30.  I hope we can count on your support for the AMENDED bill.  Again any thoughts on how we can provide improvements to the safety of the community without impacting the ability to hunt, especially deer, would be greatly appreciated.  Additionally, I would love to hear suggestions on how we could improve the management of our deer population whether through extended seasons, increasing the managed hunt or any other ideas that you might have.

If you are unavailable to attend and would still like to talk to me, feel free to e-mail me or to call me on my mobile phone at 410-446-5673.  If I do not answer, please leave your name, number and a good time to reach you.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Still listening and respectfully yours,

Greg Fox

The council meeting is tomorrow, so I am hoping to be able to find how it goes, and whether this measure passes or not.  I’ll try to keep you posted!

2 Responses to “The Howard County Safety Zone Issue…”

  1. […] Jake’s Outdoors » Blog Archive » The Howard County Safety Zone Issue… […]

  2. He sounds like a reasonable person,and it looks like you’ve put in a lot of hard work on this subject.

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