Duck Hunters vs City Folks

 By: Craig Stanford
My local paper has stories all the time about people seeing wild animals in their yards. This seems to be a sign of the times with the paper always blaming the growth of our cities and suburbs for this increase in sightings. With the population growing, where are all the animals supposed to go? Unfortunately, a lot of wild animals are ending up either in the suburbs or close to them. The hunters follow the animals which has created a problem in Sherwood, Oregon. Sherwood is a short drive from the City of Portland. It used to be a farm town, but because of growth, now it's a suburb of Portland.

At the heart of the current conflict are city residents who live on the fringes of Sherwood and are saying that during duck hunting season (October through January) they hear shotgun blasts and find empty shells in their backyards. The suburbanites are mad and are trying to stop the duck hunting next to their homes. The farmer that owns the land that is being hunted on says that his family has been hunting on the land for generations and nobody is going to stop him.

To be fair, if people really are finding empty shotgun shells in their backyards, that is not right. That would mean that hunters are either throwing their trash into the yards or shooting from the yards. Neither of which is too likely. What is probably happening is that the residents are trying to protect their families, so they are willing to say anything. If people's kids are outside and they her gunfire, they will probably say that their kids almost got shot.

Residents of Sherwood are looking to the state of Oregon and the county for help. Oregon has long been known as a state that is very proactive when it comes to planning. Every municipality in the state has its own urban gowth boundary. All building must take place within this boundary.

The residents who are complaining have the boundary line running next to their yards. The area where the duck hunting is taking place is just outside of the city limits, so it is outside of this growth line, in the counly. County commissioners are frustrated by an Oregon law that mentions "hunting and fishing preserves". Yet, the law doesn't define what exactly constitutes one of these "preserves". This leaves the commissioners unable to step in on the resident's behalf, when the state is so vague.

As is often the case in a conflict such as this, it sounds like both sides may be exaggerating. Residents say that the farmer is running a hunting club. This would be illegal since the farmer doesn't have a business license. The farmer says that residents knew that duck hunting was taking place in the field when they bought their houses.

The curious thing is; the farmer was the one who sold the land for development in the first place. Did he forget to tell the developer about the duck hunting? Are the residents being overprotective of their kids?

We have to remember that if we are hunting near a suburb, we need to pickup our trash and aim our guns away from any development. This means not taking some shots, but remember, people will freak out if buckshot falls within 200yds of their kids.

The bottom line is that both sides are right and both sides are wrong, so it sounds like a compromise is in order. The conflict in Oregon is surely being played out in many other states, especially those with lax planning laws that allow suburbs to gobble up all the land they want. One of the county commissioners in Oregon summed up the situation in Sherwood best when he said," people need to be tolerant of other people's activities".
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Article Tags: hunting, duck-hunting

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