Sport Hunting in Residential Neighborhoods. Is It Safe?
Article posted by C.A.S.H. Committee To Abolish Sport Hunting

CLICK HERE for more from CASH COURIER NEWSLETTER, Winter/Spring 2018

By Colleen Bruno

Salt like used for hunting

The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) boasts a record year in hunting safety stating there were only 29 incidents, the lowest ever recorded in Pennsylvania. These statistics do not include the hundreds of domestic animals mistakenly killed in traps or tree stand falls associated with costly emergency care, catastrophic brain and spinal cord injuries, permanent disability, and death.

Recently, my pet was victimized by a rusty limb trap in my neighbor’s yard. This sobering incident was my introduction to Pennsylvania’s hunting laws. Upon investigation, a Conservation Officer discovered a trap violating the Safety Zone Regulation. The same neighbor was previously caught trespassing with a rifle, waiting for deer to visit another neighbor’s illegal salt lick. When confronted, he joked “Why bother going to the Game Lands when I can shoot ‘em right here?” Aside from being unethical and irresponsible, he broke several hunting laws, violating several neighbors safety zones, and did not care that an Elementary School playground sits 300 yards away. In both instances, no disciplinary action was taken.

When I asked the hunter/trapper to take the moral high ground and remove the traps for the safety of my children and pets, he refused. He could not look me in the eye, but he assured me that the safety of my kids and pets “ain’t his problem”. The sad thing is….he’s right. There are no regulations that require hunters to be capable of an intelligent thought or show any sense of decency or morality. It takes only one bad hunter to turn a perfectly nice family neighborhood into hillbilly hell.

The love I have for my family, and my concern for their safety is more significant than my neighbor’s craving for deer chili or a new coon skin. To my dismay, the hunting community in Pennsylvania is like an army of uneducated, uncivilized soldiers who all look exactly like Larry the Cable Guy. They proclaim to be saving the world from being taken over by deer and bunny rabbits. This army has a secret weapon that allows them to conduct target practice near schools, compromise the safety of women and children, and even kill one another. They have the backing of the NRA, who will sue the pants off anyone who tries to impose any type of gun restrictions.

When I think of the term “incident,” I think of a fender bender, an act of vandalism, or someone slipping on a wet floor at Walmart. Hunting “incidents’ are gruesome and horrifying. Yet, the PGC often refers to them as unfortunate accidents. When you shoot your own family members because you thought they were deer, or your stray bullet hits a baby, then you did something terribly wrong.

Should the PGC boast that it has been a record safe year for hunting with 29 incidents like these?

  • In February 2016, Jamie Horning, 22 of Lancaster County was hit in the neck by a stray bullet while sitting in her safety zone, which consequently was her kitchen. Jamie, a nurse, instructed her family how to administer life saving first aid while she waited for EMT’s to arrive.
  • In June 2016, 24 year old Jessica Hockenberry of Franklin County PA was struck by a stray bullet in her shoulder while sitting with her child at her family’s swimming pool. Jessica was 7 months pregnant at the time. Surgeon’s could not remove the bullet due to the risk to her unborn child.
  •  Shane Iverson of Indiana County, PA was back in the hospital in September 2016. Shane was hit by a stray bullet when he was 6 days old, in his home, cradled in his father’s arms. Shane who is now 3 years old is blind, has uncontrollable seizures, and is wheelchair bound.
  • October 31st, 2016, Zack David shot two of his own children, ages 2 and 4. He left them in his car while he was out chasing a deer. The children were shot accidentally by their father while sitting in his car awaiting his return.
  • Dec 26th, 2016, 11 year old Anna Grace Cook died in a hunting incident. The cause of death was a massive gun shot wound to the head. This incident is still under investigation.
  • Dustin Cook of Texas admitted that he knew that there was a school in the trajectory range of his rifle after he shot and paralyzed 13 year old Nicholas Tijerina, and caused organ damage to 14 year old Edson Amaro. Nicholas and Edson were trying out for the basketball team near Tamaqua High School, when they were shot by Cooks bullets which traveled a mile before they hit the students. No Safety Zone could have protected these children.

Hunting and Trapping in family neighborhoods may be the norm here in Pennsylvania, but it’s irresponsible, dangerous, and deplorable. My children should have the right to play kickball outside without needing a fluorescent orange bullet proof vest to keep them safe. Folks should be able to walk their dogs without being ambushed by a trap.

As long as people hunt near homes, playgrounds, and schools, there is no real Safety Zone. Hunters will continue to pervert family neighborhoods because no one is stopping them. As evidenced by my personal encounter with irresponsible hunters and law officials that look the other way, I can see why hunters feel above the law and victims feel powerless.

The PGC should be ashamed of it’s 29 incidents. People’s lives were lost. Children were killed. Beloved pets were maimed. Tax dollars...wasted. Were they praising themselves about the reduction in the amount of body bags used this year?

In October 2016, Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill lifting the ban on semi-automatic rifles as well as some others for hunting in Pennsylvania. ... There are estimated to be over 500,000 deer hunters in Pennsylvania this year, and less than 400 Wildlife Conservation Officers. How safe is your Safety Zone?

Colleen Bruno is a resident of Pennsylvania whose family has been victimized by hunters and trappers. Her hair-raising and too frequent accounts of the impact hunting and trapping are having on the lives of citizens have been and will continue to be published in the C.A.S.H. Courier.

CLICK HERE for more from CASH COURIER NEWSLETTER, Winter/Spring 2018

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