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Community residents take aim at hunters

Dave Jennings, left, and Brian Kirkham took their concern to RDCK board members Thursday. — John Boivin, The Nelson Daily

Some residents of Shoreacres say they’re fed up with people hunting illegally close to their properties.

Brian Kirkham and Dave Jennings came to the board meeting of the Regional District of the Central Kootenays on Thursday to ask them to do something about it.

“There’s nowhere you should hunt [in the subdivision], we’re just trying to protect ourselves,” Kirkham told directors. “We don’t want to get shot out there.”

“There’s people driving to work, people walking in the morning,” he later told reporters. “We need to protect ourselves- it should be a non-hunting, non-shooting area.”

Kirkham says Shoreacres, a community of about 100 homes west of the junction of Highways 3A and 6, is a haven for elk. The animals can often be seen eating in people’s yards, crossing the road and wandering in nearby fields.

That’s made it too tempting for hunters looking for an easy kill and pack-out. But Jennings says it’s just too dangerous hunting in a residential area.

“I’m an ex-police officer and military man. I know weapons, I’ve seen enough corpses as a result of gun fire. And I’m not naïve, or a bleeding heart. But that area is a residential neighbourhood, and if you check the map there’s no where to hunt.

“All we want is someone to start enforcing the laws or exempt the entire area from hunting. It shouldn’t be happening. It’s our home.”

Provincial laws already proscribe hunting within 100 metres of a road, railway or near private property.  But Kirkham and Jennings say people either ignore the law, or claim they have permission to hunt on the property- something that can’t be granted in a residential area.

“If they’re hunting there, they’re poachers,” says Jennings.

“There’s people driving to work, people walking in the morning. We need to protect ourselves- it should be a non-hunting, non-shooting area.”

That’s why the pair came to the RDCK board meeting- to press their case for a  bylaw expressly forbidding hunting in the area, and to see if RDCK directors can get some action on the issue. Both men complain that police and conservation officers haven’t responded when they raise concerns.

“The laws and rules are in place, they just need enforcement,” he says.

Andy Davidoff, the director for the area that includes Shoreacres, says there may be something the RDCK can do.

“We are looking at options,” he says. “We have invited the Conservation Service Inspector for the Kootenay region and the Southeast Division RCMP to discuss the use and enforcement of firearms at our next Rural Affairs Committee meeting.

“So we’d like  to hear from higher level officials to find out exactly what the rules are, and what their frustrations are, and whether we have a role to play in supporting them.”

In the meantime, Kirkham and Jennings say they’ve started a neighbourhood patrol, getting up every morning, looking for hunters and reporting them to authorities. They haven’t had any encounters with hunters yet.

“I have nothing against hunting, I have nothing against guns,” says Kirkham. “But it’s a no-hunting area. We just want to stay alive.”