Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thoughts on Proposed Hunting Regulations (Updated)

[I received additional information about some of my concerns from the District, and include that information below in italics.]

Here is my take on the proposed changes to the PRVWSD hunting regulations.  The District is correct to attempt to flesh out and clarify the rules related to hunting.  However, this draft needs to be further refined before implementation.  

The more thorough definition of type of weapon allowed is good.  The previous definition was ambiguous.  The proposed draft takes the ambiguity out.  

Pay attention to the language concerning weapons and size shot allowed.  The rule remains, no rifles.  The District's decision to limit hunting to archery, black powder primitive weapons, and certain shotguns is sound considering the close proximity of residences, boaters, and other recreationists.

There is now more language concerning ATVs, tree stands, implied consent to search vehicles, etc.  These should be carefully read and understood by hunters.  However, they are not much different from rules and regulations governing other public lands.

The main issue I have is the vague definitions of lands.  Pursuant to Rule 5.2, hunting is restricted in certain, generally described areas, for example, "areas known as the undeveloped portion of Lost Rabbit and that portion of the Reservoir Project Area along and on both sides of Old Rice Road adjacent to Twin Harbor and Haley Creek Subdivisions."  What exactly is known as the undeveloped portion of Lost Rabbit?  Is it the Lost Rabbit Subdivision, or the entire tract between the trace and Reservoir in Sections 11, 12 and 14?

Rule 5.3 is even more ambiguous as to lands which are open to hunting.  What are the precise boundaries of Found Rabbit, Brown's Landing, and Catfish Landing?  If I am going to be slapped with $500 fine and face 15 days in jail, I'd like to know.  This can be easily cured through artful descriptions and the incorporation of a map.

Additional descriptions of the properties will be included in the regulations, along with new maps drawn up and made available.  Also, District boundaries are marked with yellow triangles, attached to the trees.

Note also the District desires to restrict hunting in three distinct parcels by special permit only.  At least one of these tracts was not previously open to hunting ("the area below the Main Dam").  From indications contained in the language of the draft, the other two tracts may be in the undeveloped portions between the Northshore Causeway and the Reservoir.  These will be prime spots due to the ease of access.  From talking with the District, I believe this will be a public draw system, where individuals apply for a special permit to hunt during certain times, and winners are randomly chosen.  I may be mistaken, and it could mean only individuals with a special permit obtained from the District can hunt.  It's vague and should be fleshed out further as to erase any appearance of impropriety.  The draw program for these tracts will be similar to the system in place for alligator permits and permits for WMAs.

I also note an indication the District may begin entering into private leases for recreational/hunting purposes.  See Rule 5.2(e).  This would mean auctioning off District lands to the highest bidder for an exclusive hunting lease for a term of years.  The advantages to the District are numerous:  supplemental income, limited numbers of individuals using District property, insurance coverage, liability, and the hunting clubs would be allowed to upkeep the property and roads.  The main disadvantage falls on the general public, i.e., restricted access to District Property, possibly year round.  If the District is going to begin entering into private hunting leases, that mechanisms for that should be spelled out in the regulations.

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