Possible New Place to hunt in San Diego

foulshot

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Officials consider opening bay refuge for limited hunting
Government must study priority uses

By Terry Rodgers
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

April 17, 2002

A proposal to allow duck hunting within the South San Diego Bay Wildlife Refuge for the first time in decades has astounded nature lovers and environmentalists.

"It defeats the purpose of the refuge in its role as a haven for wildlife," said James Peugh, spokesman for the San Diego Audubon Society, an organization that promotes bird watching.

Hunting enthusiasts say a limited-entry duck season during winter can be conducted safely without harming the bay's ecosystem.

Opening the refuge to hunters is being considered under a 15-year management plan being drafted by federal wildlife officials and planned for release in June for public review.

Federal law, adopted in 1997, requires the officials to examine whether hunting is an appropriate use, said Mendel Stewart, refuge manager.

Hunting is one of six priority uses that must be considered for federal wildlife refuges; the other five are fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, environmental education and environmental interpretation.

"Lots of people have been very upset with us for even considering it," Stewart said.

Among those are members of the Coronado City Council, who say they have written federal officials with their objections.

"No one wants to hear gunfire," said Councilwoman Mona Wilson, referring to residents whose homes line the western shoreline of San Diego Bay.

Duck hunters say public safety should not be an issue because they would shoot over the water, not toward land or homes, and would use shotguns with a limited range.

Hunting has been allowed in various national wildlife refuges – including one at the Salton Sea in Imperial County – since the system was created 100 years ago. Several refuges were even established with funds garnered from duck stamps purchased by hunters

But therein lies an irony: Hunting hasn't been allowed along the urban shoreline of San Diego Bay for decades. However, the establishment of the 2,000-acre federal wildlife refuge in 1999 means that hunting can be restored there as a recreational use, Stewart said.

"It's not fair under the laws we operate under to just say no," he said. "There's a distinct possibility it could happen out there. We're trying to do the right thing by analyzing it."

If hunting is recommended, it would likely be allowed only for a few weeks each winter to a limited number of hunters, he said.

Wildlife experts will focus on whether hunting will harm any of the eight federally protected species of animals and plants at the refuge.

The two of the bay's endangered birds – the California least tern and Western snowy plover – leave in the fall before the migratory ducks sought by hunters arrive.

But environmentalists contend the noise from gunshots will frighten flocks of migratory waterfowl and cause them to be weaker for their return migrations to the north.

Peugh, spokesman for the Audubon Society, said he believes it would be illegal to allow hunting because the wildlife refuge is acreage that was purchased by the Port of San Diego as mitigation for development of least tern habitat.

But Jack Bransford, a member of the San Diego County Fish and Wildlife Advisory Commission and vice-chairman of the San Diego chapter of Quail Unlimited, said San Diego County sportsmen would be very pleased to see the refuge open to waterfowl hunting, which was historically allowed at that location. Bransford said he hunted there himself in the 1950s and 1960s.

"San Diego used to be known for its waterfowl hunting, and that was one of the prime areas," Bransford said. "It had a reputation throughout California as a prime waterfowl hunting area."

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This would be a great opportunity to hunt on the salt water in San Diego.  We just have to put up as much of a fight as the envirowakos!
 

spectr17

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That's good news. Be about a 2 hour drive for me, the same as Wister.
 

foulshot

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It would be a 20 min drive for me.  I've been down there and I have seen some quality birds in the marsh.  The mayor of the town, ChulaVista, is very much against having hunting down there, but she doesn't know what she is in for.
My grandfather told me he used to hunt this area in the 60's and what a great place it was to hunt.  It's right on the sea with a slight wind break.  The local tv coverage was suprisingly equal for both sides.  Of course the picture they put up for the story was captioned by an uneducated waterfowl person.  The headline spoke of a duckling on the bay,and the pic was of a drake ruddy- fullgrown.
 

Duck Fan

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Can we voice our support to someone down there?  Would it be helpful if we did?

If yes, who do we contact or write to?
 

EL CAZADOR

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You may want to contact Jack Bransford.  He was mentioned in the article and is a member of the San Diego County Fish and Wildlife Advisory Commission and also a memeber of San Diego Quail Unlimited.  As a fellow sportsman and member of the commission I think he would have a vested interest in this matter.

Here is his email . . .

Jack Bransford


I've already sent off an email letting him know that there will be many sportsmen ready to support this matter and that I'd be willing to help out.
 

foulshot

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Hey guys, thanks for all the support.  I know that anytime we can get support to an issue lots of guys here are always willing to help.  Hopefully this is one battle that we can win.
 

Chris

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I sent him a message too.  I grew up down there, and first learned how to ID ducks down along the Bay, so it would really be something to get to hunt in my old backyard.
 

widgnwhacker

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I also grew up in that area Imperial Beach , and remember hunters working the western and southern shoreline of the bay. The guys in our neighborhood used to shoot lots of Widgeon and Pintail. I always take a drive by there when I am down visiting my Mom. I have always wanted to go back and hunt those areas like they were in the past. It would be some great layout hunting!! I didn't see the e-mail addy ? Can someone shoot me his addy , I would like to e-mail him also. Thanks,

WW
 

d trees

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Hey you ol WW look at Fullsacks post and click on his name jack bransford:laffin-yellow: I got your back !!!! I can hear those big ol reds callin our names  
 

jerry d

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I also sent him an e-mail thanking him for his efforts.
 

foulshot

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I am in the process of contacting Jim Conrad of SD Cnty Fish and Wildlife Advisory.  I know that we need all the public hunting spots that we can get but, I heard a rumor through the grapevine that the DFG is in the process of a land purchase with the intent of making it a waterfowl spot.  The DFG is keeping the location a secret for a couple of reasons, 1)not to drive up land prices, 2)not to alert the birdhuggers.  I understand that the possible purchase would be able to accomadate more hunters than the So. Bay property, so I don't know if this property is a smokescreen to keep the birdhuggers happy or not.  As I find more info I will pass it on.

God Bless and Happy Hunting!
 

Megadeth

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Sent one myself. Thanks for the info. As a group this WILL work, but never alone. Touchy subject, but great delivery, hopefully, just hopefully!!!!!
 

foulshot

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Well I got a message back from Jim Conrad.  To his knowledge there is no other property purchase in the immediate future.  So it sounds like we can back the use of the South Bay land without worrying about it ruining immediate land purchases.  It sounds like the deciding factor in the use of the SB land will most likely be political rather than democratically.    I am trying to find out if there is any way in which we can voice our opinion, either by e-mail or letter, to State and Local officials.  As soon as I find anything out I will be sure to pass it along to everyone else.  Like Jim said to me we just have to keep fighting the good fight and hopefully it will all pay off.


More to come soon!
 

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