Barry Roth: Wider debate needed on hunting in Northampton conservation areas
NORTHAMPTON — On Sept. 5 a meeting was held by the conservation, preservation and land use planning group in Northampton to discuss plans to allow hunting on most conservation areas in the city. Remarkably only a few weeks later, on Oct. 10, the group is planning to take a vote on whether or not to allow this to pass.
Such a law, were it to pass, would mean a drastic curtailment of the ability of the average Northampton resident to enjoy and explore the natural world that surrounds us.
As it is, I personally avoid the Meadows during hunting seasons. For those who choose to go there during a hunting season, I would advise wearing bright orange so you are not considered fair game.
This law would mean walking through our woods with a constant fear and necessary vigilance, including wearing warning attire.
Such a serious piece of legislation to allow hunting in conservation areas deserves a lot more input and discussion than it has been given. Let there be an opportunity for open debate on the subject and then have a citywide vote on the matter.
Even holding a debate before the City Council would seem mandatory.
One citizen has argued that as a hunter who has contributed to conservation funds, he should be allowed to hunt on all conservation areas. This overlooks the fact that the very nature of hunting is to kill that which it seeks, whereas the name conservation means to preserve.
A conservation area’s purpose is to provide sanctuary to those within.
The citizen argues that his rights are being impinged upon by society. And in a strictly legal sense, he has a point. Of course, this assumes that all other living things on the planet have no legal rights other than as property. You can legally kill them for sport.
I personally don’t feel that is ethical.
This proposal also overlooks the vast tracts of land on which hunting is permitted in the state, which is underwritten by all taxpayers.
For those who believe wildlife is already under enough of an assault, this would mean one more loss of reverence for nature and more generally a loss of reverence for life.
I urge Northampton residents to let the Conservation Commission know how they feel about this change and to attend Thursday’s meeting.
Barry Roth lives in Florence.