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The C.A.S.H. Courier

ARTICLE from the Summer 2008 Issue

Outrageous Abuse Of Power In Ohio Shows A Clear Need To Protect Property Owners From Hunters

Shari Trowbridge owns 10.5 acres of land in a residential area. The owner of a small strip of neighboring land has granted permission to deer hunters to use that property. However, as it is only 200 feet wide, it is virtually impossible for hunters to shoot without bullets crossing Shari’s property, and in fact, this occurs regularly. Hunters continually violate her property with illegal hunting dogs tracking and pursuing deer. They set up their stands along her property line and look for deer on her property. Her driveway is literally lined with armed men day after day, endangering her family and pets as they shoot across her land. She has found shotgun shells on her property, proving that hunters have trespassed, but the Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODW) refuses to investigate the numerous complaints she has made.

The police have told Shari this is a Game Warden issue, but the Warden says only if someone is physically caught on her property can they act. Shari told us that after many phone calls over the years the ODW has never responded to her pleas. They said, on more than one occasion, “Do you know how many complaints we get?”

When Shari tried to keep deer from her land by playing her radio outdoors, hunters complained. The police supported her right to have the music on, and advised the hunter to go elsewhere, but he ignored that. As Shari noted, the law allows them to hunt anywhere regardless of the proximity to residences, schools, a petroleum shut off valve, children at play or anything else. No wonder the “Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence” gives Ohio a D- on laws shielding families from gun violence.

The ODW did finally go to her home, but only on behalf of a complaining hunter. They gave her a citation for hunter harassment, under O.R.C. 1533.031, which states “No person shall purposely prevent or attempt to prevent any person from hunting a wild animal as authorized by this chapter by creating noise or loud sounds through the use of implements intended primarily to affect the behavior of the wild animal being hunted, when the hunting is taking place on lands or waters upon which the hunting activity may lawfully occur, and when the noise or loud sounds are created on lands or waters other than the lands or waters upon which the hunting activity may lawfully occur.” Shari is told that she has to be quiet on her own property, even when unsafe hunting practices occur, when there is no law allowing police to take action in such cases, when the game warden refuses to respond, and even when there are no noise ordinances. She has to be quiet merely because there are visiting hunters on neighboring property. It has cost Shari $1000 in legal fees so far, $500 in lost time at work, and $4000 for a fence to defend her property due to the flaw in this law.

Shari learned that three different ODW officers were on the neighboring property during hunting season, watching to insure that hunters were not being harassed. She couldn’t get one to come when the same hunters trespassed on her property! ODW’s “Investigation Report” said that she played a radio, played with her dog, allowed a neighbor to ride an ATV on her property, blew a car horn, and parked too far from her house. The officers were also there for several hours during evenings that she was not even home, as stated in their own report. “I did not know that my tax dollars were being spent to pay Wildlife Officers to hunt, invade the privacy of private citizens, to neglect their duty, and harass private property owners.” Interestingly, the complaining hunter is also a Lima City Police Officer. Shari quotes a statute, O.R.C. 1501:3-6-01: “No person shall take, hunt, kill, pursue, or shoot any wildlife or wild animals by any means within 400 feet of any camping area, residence, barn, service building, shelter house, latrine, or other structure, or shot on, from, or across any road or driveway within any state forest.” Her attorney advised her that this does not only apply to state land. He brought it to the attention of the Prosecutor and the investigating officer at pre-trial, and was told that this is a Division of Forestry Law and ODW does not have to enforce it. “No one seems to know who does enforce this law,” Shari added. “If the state clearly recognizes a 400-foot safety barrier is needed for firearms, why is this law not protecting me?”

Shari is trying to get the state to correct the flawed law.

She told C.A.S.H. of her many unsuccessful attempts to get help from her Ohio State Representative, Matt Huffman, regarding her concerns about the dangerous unfairness of hunter harassment laws. Despite having the support of her Shawnee Township’s Trustees and Police Department, she could get no response from Huffman.

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To reach Shari Trowbridge kindly contact C.A.S.H. at 845-256-1400.

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