Wayland city mulls size of hunting buffer zone

By: 
Virginia Ransbottom, Staff Writer

After proposing a 450-foot safety buffer zone for bowhunting in the City of Wayland, council members Monday night tabled the hunting ordinance amendment to research what restrictions other comparable communities had.

Several avid hunters attended the public hearing Monday to express their concern over the limitation of a 450-foot zone being too restrictive for hunters to provide a buffer from their property and 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.

The 450-foot buffer was based on a DNR restriction that prohibits the discharge of a firearm 450 feet from any structure, which could be occupied by a person.

Bowhunter Alan Wagner said the DNR restriction was dropped because it also applied to trappers and bowhunters. He also said the DNR would not enforce the restriction if it became a city ordinance.

The ordinance amendment was made at the request of council member Rick Mathis and his neighbor Nathan Cardosa. Cordosa 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 and died 10 feet from his children’s play area. He also said a stray arrow can travel up to 100 yards and deflect from obstacles in its path.

“450-feet is the size of a football field and a half,” Mathis said.

Lonnie Wagner, whose deer blind was being questioned, said he has hunted on his 13-acre property for 23 years, killed six deer while bowhunting, and never endangered anyone or had any incidents.

“This is about one man buying a home and trying to control what happens off his back lot,” Wagner said. “He has never contacted me, instead he went to the police.”

Another bowhunter, Bruce Haveman, said about four years ago, Cardosa walked up to him while he sat in a deer blind on Wagner’s property and asked if he knew whose property he was hunting.

“It ruined my hunt,” he said.

Cardosa denied it was him, saying it must have been someone else. Haveman said it was possible.

“I have no vendetta against anyone who hunts—I hunt myself—I just want to create a safety zone and never set foot on that property without a police officer,” Cardosa said. “My main goal is to prevent someone from getting hurt and no matter how much you practice safety, an arrow can still ricochet off a tree.”

Another resident of Wayland who hunts in Shelbyville, said around a school the 450-foot rule was fair but as far as everywhere, it was not the greatest idea because landowners only have a certain amount of acreage.

Council member Tracy Bivins said she also thought 450-feet was too much. She suggested contacting the DNR for their opinion.

While Mathis said 300 feet would be the size of a football field, Wagner said a previous city ordinance set a limitation of 150 feet.

“If I have to have to hunt from the other side of my property, I will be shooting towards houses,” Wagner said.

Mayor pro-tem Jennifer Antel said she tried to find comparable towns with an ordinance for bowhunting; however, most local communities did not provide for any hunting within city limits.

“Everyone I have talked to supports a limit but I want to make the right decision and need more research,” she said.

The amendment was tabled until more information could be collected.

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