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The C.A.S.H. Courier Newsletter

Selected Articles from our Spring 2011 Issue

Landowner Abuse:

No Enforcement To Protect Either Women Or Bears Who Live In Rural NC

Two fresh bullet holes mar the address sign at the bottom of O’Nan’s driveway.

Elizabeth O’Nan says a group of bad apples have kept up a campaign of harassment and intimidation for 14 years in an attempt to gain access to the public woods via her driveway. Just last week she had her address sign shot up.

A glove with the middle finger extended in a rude gesture was left perched on the "no trespassing" sign.

O’Nan said the trouble starts each year with bear season. Over the years, she said, her daughter’s chickens, geese and ducks have been killed by hunting dogs. She stated that hunters have blocked her gate, preventing her family from getting in or out of their home. At one point, someone cut the lock off her gate and replaced it with a larger lock she had to cut.     

O’Nan’s driveway is a full 1 mile long off of Sugar Cove Road, high above and parallel to a creek. As both her driveway and Sugar Cove Road are private, the only way to access the national forest that adjoins her property are to either trespass or walk several miles through dense woods.

"Some of these guys are not very physically active," she said. "They’d rather drive their trucks or ATVs across our home to get where they’re going."

She said deer hunters ask if they can hunt on her place and, when she tells them no, they go about their way. It’s only the bear hunters, she said, that get mad and trespass anyway. 

Calling the McDowell Country Sheriff’s Office, she stated, usually gets good results.

"All the (deputies) have always been polite and professional," she said, but the isolation of her property means trespassers usually have cleared off before law enforcement arrives.

Sheriff Dudley Greene told The McDowell News he was aware of the dispute.

"We have responded a number of times over the years," he said. Asked if the department was investigating her sign getting shot, Greene answered, "I wasn’t aware of anything recent. I know she has had a number of issues with bear hunters over the years."

He explained that when boundaries are not clear then officers in the field have no way of determining a dispute over trespassing and right-of-way. "We have no way of knowing boundary lines. In that case our role would be a peacekeeping role," he said. "It would be up to the individual homeowner to seek a warrant for trespassing." 

O’Nan said the recent bear season, which ended Jan. 1, was better in some ways than past ones, due to the dogs being leashed this time. But the hunters have kept up what she believes is a deliberate campaign of intimidation.

"It’s taken a toll on our health," she said. "We’ve lost at least $10,000 worth of livestock over the years."

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Credit: Reprinted with permission. Author Britt Combs, The McDowell News of Marion, N.C. copyright 2011 Media General
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C.A.S.H. believes that continuing to expose the agencies that are entrusted to protect lands and wildlife, yet fail to do so, will help to change the mission, policies, and personnel, and finally bring a chance for peace to residents and wildlife.

Ms. O’Nan needs the full protection of the law enforcement agencies of the area. We’ve had reports from many people, mostly women, that hunters feel free to trespass, shoot, and run their hunting dogs on their property and near their homes.

This has got to stop. Communities would not tolerate having their citizens harassed and abused under any other circumstances, and hunting season should be no exception.

We urge law enforcement officers to make single women a high priority during hunting season. If the number of officers is insufficient, then hunting should not be allowed until the ratio of law enforcement officers to the number of hunters is raised. Ms. O’Nan and her family have been victimized by the FS, which falsely claimed they owned part of her property. They were using it for bear hunters to trespass with impunity. Men lurking about the woods with firearms at all hours of the night and day are literally a lethal lot.

C.A.S.H. will write more about the abuse of Ms. O’Nan in the next issue of the Courier because it is clear that the Forest Service cooperates to the fullest with the game agencies to promote hunting.

If you are suffering from trespassing or aggressive hunters, please contact wildwatch@verizon.net .

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