Submitted photo
A mule deer shown in this picture was harvested near a residential area.

The Ely Times

The White Pine County Commission meeting had a packed room with several locals hunters, hunting guides and several residents who were concerned with one  agenda item that could have a great impact on hunting and shooting sporting events in White Pine County.

The agenda item was for discussion and possible action for approval to direct the district attorney to draft an ordinance concerning hunting in close proximity of residences in White Pine County. This agenda item was requested by Julie Gianoli.

Gianoli sent a letter dated Aug. 20 to the White Pine County District Attorney’s office signed by herself, her husband John Gianoli, Teena Dobrescu, Wade Robison, Richard and Debbie Bustos, Chris and Jade McVicars and Amy Fullmer, all residents who live near the Giaonli’s.

Gianoli explained that the previous weekend, several residents witnessed and interacted with active hunters on or around their private properties.

“Discharging of any weapon poses a potential danger to people, their animals and property. Many residents walk their dogs on or about their properties in the immediate proximity to where these individuals were hunting. No one should have to be concerned about a wayward shot, arrow or bullet, maiming or killing them, their animals or destroying their property” Gianoli explained.

The letter also noted this was not the first occasion of this nature and Gianoli expressed concern that if not addressed it will most likely not be the last.

Two letters were read into public record during public comment, one from Teena Dobrescu, who reiterated her concerns for her family and pets safety, and the other from Jade and Chris McVicars, who requested a buffering the distance of a two miles radius to a more reasonable range of distance from the original request they had signed.

Dobrescu’s letter stated “The issue of town bucks is occurring more often, wildlife moving into populated areas, many people enjoy seeing these deer, a few weeks ago with a local guide services were seen hunting and spotting right behind our house  this is an area that many people hike and walk, the safety concern is obvious.”

Richard Bustos who also signed the original letter spoke before the commission expressing his concerns of modifying the original request of two miles, explaining that while something needs to be done, he feels it might be better to have a shooting ordinance rather than a hunting ordinance.

“I’m surprised the county doesn’t have a shooting ordinance in place already,’ he said. “I think Washoe county has a 5,000 foot distance from a resident.”

Julie Gianoli spoke before the commission, “I’m convinced that this is a mater of public safety. I’ve spoken to many people in the community that feel the same way, many are shocked that there’s not already an ordinance in place. These animals like never before are seeking refuge in or around populated areas, they are becoming more accustomed to people thereby losing much of their natural fear of people, not much of a hunt in my opinion.

“It is only amount of time before a pet, personal property or person is going to be harmed, please don’t misunderstand my intentions, I’m not opposed to hunting, several members of my family are avid hunters, however hunting these town animals in  proximity to a residence is asking for a serious problem.”

John Gianoli also spoke before the commission, stressing that his biggest concern was public safety. “This is unquestionably a public safety issue, your most important charge as a commissioner is public safety,” he said. “More of these animals have found their way into town, whether it’s drought conditions, availability of feed, unfortunately there are individuals that choose to harass or hunt these animals, now we can talk about the ethics, the sportsmanship, of doing this.

“I would probably say any hunter here would say what happened was inappropriate.  The point is when people choose to do things, it forces people people like you to intercede to control them. I love to hunt, I’m an avid hunter, I went out hunting, had an area 12 tag for antelope, but I wasn’t hunting in my backyard which happens to be in area 12.  Somebody is ultimately going to get hurt.”

Bryant Barnson, a local and a sub guide hunter, spoke about how he has lived in White Pine County for 50 years, and has shot his bow and arrows in his backyard in Ruth and across his house for the past 50 year.

“In fifty years that I know of, nobody has ever been hit with a bow and arrow from shooting a bow in a backyard,” he said. “It’s not illegal to shoot a bow in a backyard in Ely, I checked the laws.”

All of this began due to several reports of a local outfitting guide service harvesting a large mule deer with a bow and arrow in the residential area where several of the residents who signed the letter reside.

It was confirmed by an unnamed source that the deer was outside of city limits and was not on private property when shot and killed, which is not illegal.  Reports of this deer being called a “town buck” was the deer that was harvested by a local hunter.

Bryan Pyle, deputy district attorney who was filling in for District Attorney Mike Wheable, explained to the commission and the public that there is currently a shooting ordinance with regards to fire arms, in place, but is specific to the different zones in White Pine County.

Pyle also explained that the district attorneys office could begin drafting something, but wanted to make it clear that this process could take 6-8 weeks, with multiple periods of public input. Pyle said, “Two miles would be very hard to defend, it diminishes the concept of public safety and makes it look more punitive against hunting.”

Commission Steve Stork expressed his opposition to having a hunting ordinance.

“Seems to be that what’s before us is an overreaction to a single incident,” he said. “I know that there are gentleman out there that were archery hunting, and they were hunting on public lands is my understanding. Public lands is for multiple use, that is for hiking, biking, walking whatever you want to do.

“I have been told that at least one of the property owners up there is at least feeding these deer and enticing them in, this is a problem created by the people that live up there. And it’s going to be solved, the only way it’s going to be solved by hunting. These are wild animals, not pets, I enjoy seeing them as much as anybody, but I saw the incidents up in Lamoille.”

Stork explained how the animals in Lamoille Canyon in Elko County began moving into town, which then led to mountain lions moving in to town as well, which ended in the result of fish and wild game having to come in and destroy several animals.

“I sympathize with the property owners,” he said. “I wouldn’t want people trampling around my land but you live in an area adjacent to public lands, which is all over the county, that’s why I can’t support any ordinance like this,” Stork said.

Commission chairman Richard Howe expressed the desire to draft an ordinance that’s good for the hunters and good for the public.

Commissioner Gary Perea also expressed a desire to move forward. Perea said, “I would like to ask the wildlife advisory board for their input, I think the sheriff needs to work on this to see how it’s enforced.”

A motion was made and approved to table the item until after the Wildlife Advisory Board meeting scheduled for Sept. 8 at Fire District 1 Station at 6 p.m.