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Jim Reis: Four questions need to be answered in hunting debate on Northampton conservation land

FILE - In this Oct. 7, 2012 file photo, 14-year-old Collin Cleveland, of Montrose, S.D., takes aim at a pheasant during the state's annual youth hunt on land near Tyndall, S.D.  (AP Photo/Dirk Lammers, File)

FILE - In this Oct. 7, 2012 file photo, 14-year-old Collin Cleveland, of Montrose, S.D., takes aim at a pheasant during the state's annual youth hunt on land near Tyndall, S.D. (AP Photo/Dirk Lammers, File) Purchase photo reprints »

To the editor:

Paul Hollander’s recent guest column on hunting in Northampton’s conservation areas clearly differentiates the important issues — hunting in general and hunting in conservation areas. This decision by the Conservation Commission should not be made based on whether people think hunting should be allowed at all or if hunting can be safely conducted, but rather should hunting be permitted in our conservation areas. Hunting in these areas should be the primary focus of the advocacy and information provided by Northampton’s citizens.

Hollander suggests several important questions that should be addressed: Given that the conservation areas represent a small percentage of the available hunting areas in western Massachusetts, why add them to those already set aside? What is the evidence that there is an overpopulation of some animals in these areas that requires their numbers to be reduced? If hunting is to be permitted, can sufficient public safety actions be realistically implemented? What was the previous owners’ intention regarding hunting when they sold this land to the city?

As Hollander states, we should not ignore or dismisses lightly the hunters’ requests, but the above and other questions need to be answered.

I am open to hearing all the arguments, pro and con, even though I love hiking in these conservation areas and won’t feel safe if hunting is allowed, and don’t believe we should open them up to hunting.

As Robert Zimmerman, the president of the Broad Brook Coalition recently expressed in the Gazette, “These areas are like gems on a necklace encircling the city.” Unless there are compelling reasons to allow hunting in these areas I believe this should not go forward.

Jim Reis

Northampton

Thoughtful letter. It's hard to find compelling justification for opening these areas to hunting at the cost of feeling unsafe for the majority of land users and having to deal with inescapable noise from gunfire. There are many places to hunt in the nearby surrounding less populated areas. http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dfg/dfw/recreation/licensing-pubs/recreation-map.pdf

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