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Board looks at ban on all hunting at Deer Lagoon

The doughnut hole has disappeared.

Island County officials are now considering a complete ban on shooting at Deer Lagoon, a popular destination for waterfowl hunters on the South End.

Previously, county commissioners had considered restrictions that would create a 230-yard no-shoot zone around the edge of Deer Lagoon.

The proposal drew fire from many who live near Deer Lagoon at a public hearing earlier this week, however. With hunting season quickly approaching, many asked for a moratorium on shooting or an outright ban.

County Engineer Bill Oakes, the county employee who helped create the proposal for shooting restrictions, said two commissioners expressed interest in halting shooting at Deer Lagoon.

“Two of the commissioners want a complete stoppage. They made that clear at the public meeting,” he said.

Oakes said a new public hearing must be held on the proposal, since the county prosecutor’s office has indicated that one is necessary because the original proposal to restrict shooting has been changed substantially.

Commissioners John Dean and Angie Homola said Monday they supported a moratorium on shooting at Deer Lagoon.

Commissioner Helen Price Johnson helped create the previous proposal that would have limited shooting to the center of the county’s Deer Lagoon acreage.

The new hearing on the ban will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12 at Freeland Hall.

According to the proposed ordinance, commissioners will base the restrictions on the “reasonable likelihood” that shooting will endanger people, their domestic animals or property.

The ordinance also says the county cannot control what types of firearms would be used near Deer Lagoon, so it couldn’t establish a no-shoot zone on the county’s property there.

The previous proposal would have put 354 acres of the county’s 379 acres off-limits to shooting, leaving a trapezoid-shaped doughnut hole in the middle of the property where hunters could shoot.

At the public hearing earlier this week, and in comments submitted to the board, nearby residents said they were afraid to use the property during hunting season, and complained about the noise from gunfire and the possible impact to wildlife.

“Stop the gunfire immediately,” Ellen L. Callahan wrote in a letter to commissioners.

“The use of this area for hunting is incompatible with a residential area. From dawn to dusk, seven days a week, we can hear gunfire and distressed birds as they are shot at or are frightened from their wetland habitat,” she said.

Opponents of the new rules, however, said beachfront property owners near Deer Lagoon only want to preserve the public property for their own use, and said there has been no evidence that anyone has ever been hurt by the birdshot that hunters typically use at Deer Lagoon. Some said the safety issue was “vastly overblown.”

“The average bird load, like the ones we use in our 12 gauges on duck hunts, is only effective to about 45 yards or so,” wrote Michael Terrell.

“I have been about 100 yards across a lake, when somebody swung in my direction (no it wasn’t Cheney) and the pellets hit me but felt like someone threw sand at me. It did not hurt or even come close to breaking skin,” he added.

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