In Yarmouth, Maine, hunters win in classic cultural debate

spectr17

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May 17, 2002

Shotgun ban bagged by council

By TOM BELL, Portland Press Herald Writer

YARMOUTH — The Town Council voted on Thursday to allow hunting with shotguns as well as bow hunting in Pratt's Brook Park, but only for three months of the year - October, November and May.

The 5-1 vote followed months of divisive debate that some saw as a clash of cultures. Hunters praised the vote, despite the restrictions, because it allows hunting during both the deer- and bird-hunting seasons. They saw a proposal to ban shotguns as an attack by newcomers on a deeply rooted Maine tradition.

"These pseudo granolas have moved into town and are trying to take a way of life away from us," Bruce Hathaway told the council. "It's not right."

Residents who favored the ban said the town must protect the safety of people who use the popular 240-acre park.

"There is one, and only one, use in Pratt's Brook Park that puts others at serious risk - and that is hunting," said Paul Oppenheim.

The issue generated dueling petition drives. People circulating a pro-hunting petition gathered about 200 signatures, and their opponents collected more than 300.

In the end, while there may have been more residents who favored the ban, the hunters proved more committed. They turned out in larger numbers at Thursday's meeting.

About 25 residents spoke in favor of a proposal to allow a limited shotgun season in the park, and more than a dozen hunters from nearby towns also came to testify.

About 15 residents spoke in favor of a proposal to ban shotguns and only allow bow hunting, as was recommended by an advisory committee.

The hunters' arguments clearly hit their mark.

"The hunters are getting shafted here," said Town Councilor Paul Roberts. "They are taxpayers. They helped pay for the land. We must share it with them."

Councilor Rick Abbondanza, who cast the lone "no" vote, said the high school's cross country team and biology classes would not be able to use the park because of the risk of getting shot.

Abbondanza failed to win any support for his proposal to limit shotgun hunting to morning hours.

He also didn't get any support for his proposal to ban shotgun hunting within 100 yards of any trail. He seemed frustrated by the council's position.

"We aren't doing justice to the whole town without a compromise," he said.

Gerry Lavigne, a deer biologist for the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said the deer population in Yarmouth is growing.

In some sections, there are more than 40 deer per square mile, he said. If there were 15 deer per square mile, which is the state's goal, there would be very few motor vehicle collisions with deer, he said.

He said that hunting deer with shotguns is more effective than with bows. He also said that archery is a technical and demanding sport, and that many more people prefer to hunt with rifles and shotguns.

The council also decided on Thursday that hunters should get permission from the town to hunt in the park, but it will decide later on what that would entail.

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:

tbell@pressherald.com
 



buckfever7

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Yep,  that's Maine.  Avid hunters and tree huggers galore.  I personally am both.  lol.  I hug trees from September through December while climbing.
 


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