AR-News: Indiana town considers hunting ban after several residents
Peg Leg Bates
joe.miele at verizon.net
Thu Oct 23 20:40:35 EDT 2003
It is interesting to note that things have gotten so bad that a town councilman who is a hunter is leading the charge for the ban.
Merrillville considers hunting ban; Winfield goes with state laws
BY DEBORAH LAVERTY
Times Staff Writer
Thirty years ago, Merrillville's wide open fields, far removed from subdivisions, were an ideal setting for hunting wild game, Town Councilman Joe Shudick, D-3rd, recalls.
He tromped through the fields himself, rifle in hand. But in three decades, Merrillville's population has swelled and its development mushroomed, a combination Shudick believes makes hunting unsafe within town limits.
He fears what a stray bullet might do.
"It's a recipe for disaster," he said.
On Sunday, a 16-year-old Schererville boy was hit with buckshot while in his back yard in the Autumn Creek subdivision, but was not seriously hurt, just startled. Schererville police don't take action against those with hunting permits unless recklessness is involved, the boy's family was told.
In Merrillville, Shudick asked the Town Council earlier this week to consider changing the present ordinance allowing hunting on parcels of 10 acres or more and within 400 feet of a house.
"I'd like to look at legally prohibiting hunting. I'm a hunter myself but there's a place for that and it's not within the town limits of Merrillville," he said.
He has taken numerous calls from residents complaining about hunting incidents.
"We still have a lot of wild life but the population is not as wide open," he said.
Town Councilman Archie Owen, R-6th, said he, too, has fielded complaints. A portion of his ward, which includes the town's southeast side, includes both open areas mixed with small subdivisions and individual houses on large lots.
Councilman David Uzelac, D-4th, said he heard from one homeowner who was shot by a stray bullet.
Shudick said a hunting ban might upset some people particularly in Owen's ward, which is one of the most open.
But Owen said public safety is the overriding concern.
"We should put this (changes to the hunting ordinance) in the hands of the town attorney and the police chief," Uzelac said.
Within the last year the town of Winfield grappled with the idea of writing a hunting ordinance after some residents complained of hunters killing pets and shooting near schools and into homes.
Winfield at one time had a broad-based firearms discharge ordinance in place, but it was rescinded several years ago.
The Town Council asked Winfield's ad hoc advisory Quality of Life Committee to investigate possible solutions. The committee consulted the Department of Natural Resources, discovering that state law overrides any municipal law regarding hunting.
State hunting rules and regulations do not indicate any certain distance requirements from buildings or dwellings as long as hunters hunt in legal season, are licensed and follow other legal hunting rules.
The Winfield committee concluded that instituting a hunting ordinance would tread dangerously close to gun control, and would also be too difficult to enforce.
Ultimately, Winfield officials decided to follow the state's hunting laws, instead.
Times Correspondent Diane Krieger Spivak contributed to this report.
Deborah Laverty can be reached at dlaverty at nwitimes.com or at (219) 662-5324.
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