The Ely Times

There was not one seat available at the Wildlife Advisory Board meeting Tuesday night. And, although there was no agenda item to discuss the recent concerns of a request to propose a county ordinance regarding hunting near residential properties, several locals filled the conference room, and had standing room only, while many waited their turn to speak during public comment.

About 30 people attended the meeting, and it’s estimated that about half of those people spoke, voicing their concerns.

Ray Sawyer, chairman of the board, explained to the crowd that the agenda was posted prior to this being an issue that they knew of so they couldn’t get it on their agenda in time.

The White Pine County Commission meeting last week contained an agenda item at the request of Julie and John Gianoli and several residents who live in Squaw Peak area, a residential area just right outside of city limits.

The letter proposed a request to create a county ordinance that would create a two-mile buffer around any residential properties in White Pine County. Several of the residents who signed the letter expressed concerns of their public safety being affected. And, while many of these residents property backs up to public land, where hunting is legal, recent events of hunters harvesting deer has become questionable in how close they have been to these specific properties.

Several residents who live outside of city limits attended the meeting voicing their concerns about the proposed restrictions.

Bill Kingston said, “I have 5 acres and I have people shooting around my house that don’t bother me any, one of the reasons I live in the rural areas is because I understand there are animals that need to be hunted.

“In the situation that they’re talking about, this gentleman killed an animal on public land, which is in my opinion, he did what he enjoys doing on public land.  If their trying to take this zone away from me to hunt, their infringing on my rights.  If it’s public land you should be able to do whatever you want on public land.”

Bryant Barnson, who was at the county commission meeting last week, reiterated his concerns on a ordinance, noting that two miles was ridiculous and he didn’t think White Pine needed any new laws at all.

Scott Laity, a local and avid hunter, said, “I honestly think that there is no need for any restrictions on public land. Hunting is already on the books, in the laws, fish and game do a great job of helping out, controlling that, the sheriff’s office controls the laws in town.

“One of the biggest issues I see, is the deer in town. I feel that we should figure out a way to get them out of town, if we didn’t have the deer in town we probably never would have had this problem.”

Laity came up with some possible solutions such as getting them out of town, second option making sure that people don’t feed them, and if you’re not in city limits you have clear boundaries on your own property as well, fencing, and signage, no trespassing no hunting should help that.

“A two-mile radius cuts down a bunch of our hunting areas,” he said. “I don’t know that I would want to go there, other than a boundary of property.”

Scott Giles with Nevada Department of Wildlife explained to the crowd that NDOW would not comment about this proposed ordinance at this time. Giles did state that feeding of wildlife is illegal, and a warning could be issued, and then a misdemeanor citation if necessary.

Cody Bliss, expressed his concern on the possibility of the ordinance.

“I guess I would just like to say, there is already enough law already out there, maybe we just enforce those ordinances whether it be city or county, state,” he said. “I don’t think we need anything new. People have different perspectives whether this instance happened under an unethical situation, to me it’s null and void, no laws were broken other than feeding an animal if that can be proven.”

Jake Bowman, new to the community and lives out in the Duck Creek area about 13 miles from McGill, said, “We come up here to be out in the open, to be able to hunt and fish to be away from the lights of California and all restrictions they have over there, there is nothing wrong, if you limit it to where you can’t hunt within two miles of the residence, you can’t hunt half of Duck Creek where we’re building, and that’s ridiculous.

“If the laws are there, enforce the ones we got. If someone did something wrong, go after them, but don’t punish the rest of us. Don’t punish everybody because four or five people have their pants in a wad.”

Chariman Ray Sawyer explained to the crowd that because it wasn’t an agenda item, the board was not going to make any public comment, or take any action.

“If it comes back to our board on an agenda’d item then we’ll make a recommendation,” he said. “We have a member of the commission here, he is hearing the public responses, I don’t know if that’s going to be enough to take that back to the commission if their going to want that on their agenda. At this time, I don’t know, but today were not taking any action because it was not an item that’s agenda’d.”

County Commissioner Steve Stork was present during the meeting and said,  “W
hat I foresee happening or what I’m going to propose is I do think this needs to have a hearing before the wildlife advisory board agenda so it’s properly posted and public that way this board does it’s job in providing the county commission with the information that were seeking and then we can weigh in all of the other information.”

Stork strongly urged the crowd to attend the commission meeting.

Board member Justin Shane Boren said, “In my view, a deer was shot, but the issue wasn’t the deer, the issue was a safety concern over the shooting. That being said, we are a county game board. I would hope that the White Pine County Sheriff would be at the White Pine Commission meeting with his.

“What he feels is appropriate or new laws if there is any because it’s a shooting safety, and that concerns the white pine county sheriff, more so probably other than us. Secondly, I have lived in Preston Nevada for 17 years, in a month we’ll have two to three hundred deer.

“I’ve had deer shot off the highway. I’ve had deer shot on my property, sprinklers shot, you name it. I also have property five miles away from that I’m going to put a cabin on, if you enact an ordinance with a two-mile radius I won’t be able to shoot from my property that doesn’t have a dwelling within fove miles.

“Somehow I think that’s pretty ridiculous. There has to be another avenue there. Even though all of those things have happened I would not want someone to tell me that I can’t shoot within two miles of Preston.”

Board member Mitch McVicars recalled the board having a March 16 meeting where this same  topic was discussed.

McVicars explained every advisory board across the state was not in favor of these new regulations and so it hasn’t been thats long that it was discussed.

“We’ve got letters from White Pine District Attorney, Mike Wheable not in favor of the new regulations,” McVicars said. “I don’t know, do we have to go back through that process since it was only a few months ago? I guess that’s a commission question.”

Having hunting ordinances for different counties poses a problem. The majority of hunters come from Clark County, and it’s unlikely their not going to be aware of a ordinance, unless they research it.

So how far is two miles? The distance from the NDOT yard located at 1401 Aultman St. to Wilson Bates, located at 349 Aultman St., is two miles.

Research shows that a beginner in archery could shoot only about 30 yards. A more experienced archery shooter could shoot as far as 100 yards.

A beginner hunter who hunted with a rifle could shoot about 200 yards and a more advanced shooter could shoot as far as 1,000 yards. Considering one mile equals 5,280 feet or 1,760 yards, these estimates are still under the proposed two mile radius.

Hal Bybee said, “I’ve lived here for 35 years on my property and I border BLM land, I have never had a bullet come through my front room and people go out there and shoot all the time, and that’s what everyone is getting to, it’s where you’re pointing your weapon, there’s nothing wrong with those people on BLM land hunting, nothing.”