Hearing on hunting ordinances continues

Some residents living in the Deer Lagoon area are asking the Island County Commissioners to protect their safety and quality of life by banning the discharge of firearms and bird hunting in the county-owned portion of Deer Lagoon.

About a dozen of them spoke out during Monday’s public hearing before the Island County Commissioners in Coupeville.

The hearing was held to take comment on proposed ordinances covering hunting on the Kettles Trails near Coupeville, part of the Greenbank Farm property, Deer Lagoon in Langley, and Camano Ridge on Camano Island.

About 150 people attended the meeting, and the crowd seemed to be evenly split on the issue.

Some Deer Lagoon area residents blasted the commissioners for even considering hunting in the area. They said it’s not an issue about hunting, but safety.

Others who favor hunting, however, in Deer Lagoon say hunting is part of the rural character of the island.

They also pointed out they pay taxes and should be allowed to use Deer Lagoon during duck hunting season. They also stressed that no one has been injured from the duck hunters in the area.

Hundreds of hunters already use land in Island County to pursue their sport. According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 433 duck stamps were used in all of Island County last year.

The county is proposing that hunting be allowed in Deer Lagoon, but the county wants to keep a 150-foot setback from other properties. Several speakers said that’s not far enough, as bird shot is still dangerous at that distance.

Paulette Becker, a Useless Bay Colony resident, was angry that the commissioners are even considering allowing hunting in the lagoon.

“I think their minds are already made up,” Becker said. “They offered us two choices; hunting with the 150-foot setback or hunting without the setback. Are hunters going to carry tape measures?”

“The setback doesn’t address issues concerning noise, quality of life and the effect hunting has on our property values,” she added.

“Shame on you, shame on all three of you,” Becker told the commissioners. “There seems to be a good old boys’ network going here. It’s not your right to put the citizens at risk. You have to have the guts and integrity to say no.”

Dave Haworth told commissioners that hunting is not allowed on other lakes in Island County.

Deer Lagoon should not be any different, he said.

A number of residents complained about gun noise and said pellets have hit their windows and animals. An airline pilot living in the area said his sleep is disrupted routinely during hunting season. Another woman said pellets spray her dining room windows while she is serving holiday dinners.

Some residents said that allowing hunting for five months every year makes the property dangerous and unavailable to dog walkers hikers, bikers and bird watchers.

Hunters said hunting is allowed during a portion of the year at Deer Lagoon.

Some say they cannot allow their children and grandchildren to play in their backyard during hunting season.

On Whidbey Island, hunters can use only shotguns, bows, black powder rifles and handguns. High-powered rifles are not allowed.

Paul Thompson of Langley read a statement that said in part that he was speaking on behalf of the 231 signers of a petition demanding a total ban on gunfire over Deer Lagoon.

“You can do much, much better. Before waterfowl season starts, please convene a team of unbiased, preferably independent advisors. Return to your legislative drawing boards,” Thompson said. “Keep firmly in your minds that public safety for the many must always be a higher priority than the hobby of a lesser number. Don’t patronize us; protect us.”

Homeowners say hunting was not allowed until 2004, when the county purchased 357 acres. H & H Properties owned that portion of the lagoon until it was purchased by the county a couple of years ago. When H & H owned it, “no hunting” and “no trespassing signs” were posted.

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