Letter: Resident Angered Over Backyard Hunting
A letter to the editor penned by a Shrewsbury resident upset with a municipal ordinance that allows deer hunting closer to residential properties like hers.
Editor's note: The following is a letter to the editor from Shrewsbury resident Delores Lichtig. For context, read the following story about an ordinance passed in Shrewsbury and subsequent protest by local residents. In June 2011, borough council approved an ordinance allowing bow hunters to hunt deer from a distance of 150 feet from homes on private property. State law previously required bow hunters to be at least 450 feet from homes.
My husband died a few weeks ago. We have been residents of our town for 34 years. We were also lifetime members of the Historical Society. On two occasions we willingly accepted a request to open our home for viewing by hundreds of people on Historical House Tours that benefited this Shrewsbury organization. One look at our home reveals my husband’s attention to detail. Imagine the irony that this last two seasons alive were plagued by the real threat of bow hunters in the trees of the property directly adjoining our home.
As we could see these hunters on their deer stands from our driveway, it was impossible to walk to the mailbox without worrying where an arrow would strike. For an 8-year-old playing in the leaves in our yard, it was unthinkable. One neighbor capitalized on this change of law by inviting people to hunt in his yard despite pleas on several occasions from myself and the other surrounding neighbors. The fact that eight residences and fourteen condos occupy or border this small property did not sway his ignorance and self-importance. Raising this safety issue with both the Police Department and a Borough Council Member did nothing.
This change in law, we were told, was apparently based on a (clear bias response) survey mailed to a very small number of town residents (1499) with an even smaller number returning this survey (242 or 16% of responses). The survey questions were not corroborative, the multiple choice answers completely subjective and the final numbers calculated were not even correct.
The survey presented to the Borough Council quoted data from Maine and Connecticut, replete with pictures from Vermont and Pennsylvania. At no time did this survey inform us the end result would be hunting in the Borough. After we witnessed bow hunters assembling their weapons in the neighbor’s yard, the Borough gave us a number of fabricated ideas ranging from, “Don’t worry, the hunters aim downward” (not true; we saw the hunters were aiming straight at our property and the projectile ability of those bows could easily have gone through our house to the next one); “This is what the people of Shrewsbury want” (oh really –based on a 16% overall response?); and the best of all, “The hunters give their slaughtered deer meat to food banks (also not true as it is not legal for food banks, food kitchens or homeless shelters to accept wild game).
When hunting season was over, my husband trespassed on this property and collected the discarded beer cans the hunters left on the ground. The knowledge that it was actually the Police Department who changed the projectile code last fall, which permitted hunting by Borough employees – while masquerading as the ‘will of the residents’ – was galling.
One Borough employee told me, “Hunting has been going on for years behind the Monmouth County Library.” People, watch out when you go to Trader Joe’s during hunting season. Where were the police during this illegal hunting two years ago? Last fall, the hunters dusted off their camouflage jackets and invaded a residential neighborhood with deadly weapons and alcohol with no one to enforce the law.
The Borough ruling states no hunting permit is required on private property. Exactly whose responsibility is it to protect us from inebriated hunters? Who is going to enforce these laws at the risk of being shot? Yes, alcohol consumption and hunting is illegal, similar to drinking and driving being illegal. Does that mean no one is drunk when they drive down Broad Street?
The Borough has a projectile code. The Borough has a code for everything, from debris to noise, to “hawking,” to massages. Why has the projectile code been compromised to exclude bow hunting in a residential area? Ostensibly, it takes less time to roll out of bed, grab a deadly weapon, and saunter across the street where deer are waiting to be shot. Best of all, you do not need a permit and no one will bother you while you are sipping your Bud Light.
As an addendum: The Community Garden on Borough property is a lovely idea. However, the fence will do nothing but give the powers that be another area and excuse to ultimately hunt deer and again compromise our safety. This time, the safety of the children on the recreation fields will be at stake. The September town council meeting will focus on how much money was spent on this gardening endeavor and how much damage the deer caused eating the vegetables. Borough Council, did you read the deer report whose results you sanctioned? I guess you didn’t have to. The law was already changed to suit you, completely disregarding the safety of the affected taxpayers.
Delores R. Lichtig