hunting

A sign on posted property in Attleboro warns against hunting, among other things.

ATTLEBORO -- Those aiming to tighten hunting rules in Attleboro will finally get a public hearing on a law to do just that after six years of pushing for action.

The hearing is slated for Feb. 5 at City Hall.

The ordinance, proposed by councilors Todd Kobus and Laura Dolan, would require hunters to get written permission to hunt on private property and ban hunting on all city-owned property.

It also bans the use of “any type of steel-jaw or leg hold trap.” Box traps would be allowed with written permission of land owners.

Kobus submitted the ordinance, arguing that hunting endangers residents because there's less and less land to use for the sport.

Complaints about hunters who trespass, vandalize “no hunting” signs and shoot guns near homes have peppered the council since early 2013.

State law does not require hunters to get permission to hunt on non-posted private property, but “strongly recommends it.”

The matter was originally assigned to the public safety committee more than two years ago, but it died there when Chairman Peter Blais announced in May he intended to “strike,” or kill, a draft ordinance, arguing no additional regulations are needed.

The current proposal is in the ordinance committee headed by Councilor Diana Holmes, who brought the request for a public hearing up for a vote. The request passed last week.

Hunters have strongly opposed any restrictions on their sport and have turned out in force when the issue has been raised.

Meanwhile, those arguing in favor of rule changes say they don’t oppose hunting in general, but just want property rights respected. Like Kobus, they fear someone will be shot accidentally while walking in the woods.

With more and more property being gobbled up by homes and organizations like Attleboro Land Trust, land available for hunting has decreased, putting hunters and non-hunters in closer proximity while using the woods.

Some large landowners, including the conservation commission and the land trust, which own almost 1,500 acres between them, have banned hunting.

The commission owns about 800 acres and the trust owns or controls about 690 acres.

Other private property owners have said hunters ignore signs prohibiting trespassing and hunting on their land. Signs have been torn down or shot up, they’ve said.

Those are allegations hunters have denied. They argue the vast majority of hunters respect private property rights and are safety conscious.

George W. Rhodes can be reached at 508-236-0432.

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