Many Harrison Mills residents are hoping to muzzle the sounds of guns in their backyard. A petition to end hunting in the area surrounding Kilby was submitted to the District of Kent at the end of November, and mulled over by council on Monday night.
The petition was signed by 23 people, who wrote numerous complaints that the sounds of guns going off is scaring their dogs and horses, making residents and tourists feel unsafe, and disturbing the swans and eagles. It’s also made walking along the dike terrifying to some, including leashed dogs.
But council pointed out that farmers have a right to hunt their land, especially for crop-destroying waterfowl.
Councillor Duane Post noted that in one of his fields recently, what didn’t get damaged by flooding was lost to hungry waterfowl.
“Try imaging every Saturday morning, guns going off 100 yards from your window,” Dale Rosamond told the Observer. “Everybody here can hear it. These are 12 gauge shotguns; they’re loud.”
There have been numerous close calls for residents, he added. Personally, he’s had pellets bouncing off a tin roof above him, seconds after hearing gun shots.
Another time, he witnessed a neighbour who he said was almost killed by a spooked horse in a fenced paddock, when hunters “opened up full volume.”
“She got swung by the horse and smashed into the fence,” he said. While she walked away mostly unscathed, the strength of the horse broke the fence.
The hunters are often within earshot, enough to speak to each other. While council suggested that most hunters would be polite enough to stop shooting if asked, Rosamond said that’s often not the case and the police have been called on a few occasions.
“Without even yelling they can hear me,” he said. “They said ‘f*** you or I’ll shoot you, too.”
Rosamond said the community “didn’t know what else to do,” so they set out to build the petition.
District staff has been communicating with residents in the area, informing them they can put up “no hunting” and “no trespassing” signs. However, shooting is allowed in the district, except for within 900 metres of schools, churches and dwellings.
Darcey Kohuch, director of planning and development for the District, said that the provincial hunting regulations set out clear laws for distances. While those may differ in municipalities, the provincial hunting regulations state that hunters are required to consult with municipalities.
And no one is ever to be trespassing on private, he underlined.
Staff at Kent Outdoors said it is commonplace for hunters to go door to door to ask permission to shoot waterfowl on farmland.
To hunt on land without permission is poaching, they added — a serious crime.
Almost every land owner has signed the Harrison Mills petition, Rosamond said. And in the past few weeks, the noise has died down.
Council referred the petition back to staff to continue discussions with residents.
For more information on current local and provincial hunting regulations, visit the district office or Kent Outdoors.