LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Commissioners were right
December 16, 2009 · Updated 8:59 AM
To the editor:
It is laughable (but also frustrating) that hunters like Jerry Smith choose to dismiss residents around Deer Lagoon as “newcomers” and “armchair residents.”
There is no room for name-calling in civil discourse, sir. As to your idea that it is about the view and the noise, I would suggest that you read the letter from former lagoon owner H&H Properties, evidencing that they had posted “NO HUNTING” signs after the private hunting club was closed. The “tradition” you speak of lasted only a brief period, at a time when far fewer homes surrounded Deer Lagoon.
Hunters continue to claim the decision by the county commissioners was based on complaints about noise. Not so: Two residents were hit by birdshot, houses were hit by birdshot and numerous ugly encounters with hunters asked by landowners to leave their property have occurred. The fact that no one was severely injured does not justify continued exposure to rising risk for the sake of a hobby in decline.
Island County commissioners acted with due diligence and equity before deciding in favor of public safety. Perhaps hunters’ inability to recognize prevailing urban growth is related to their own blind insistence on convenient access to nearby ducks. There are, after all, other waterfowl habitats on Whidbey Island located a safe distance from homes and people. I have spoken with experienced hunters who have said that they would never discharge a shotgun at Deer Lagoon — no matter whether shooting is legal — because it is too near property and people to be reasonably safe.
As to Deer Lagoon residents lacking “integration” with nature: On whose authority does Mr. Smith arrive at this conclusion? These “newcomers,” Mr. Smith, bring jobs and businesses to the island, and many donate their time and money to community causes. Many are strong environmentalists; some are now or have been hunters. That’s integration enough for me.
Hunting in America was once permitted everywhere — even in thousands of areas that later grew into major cities. Families moved in. Shooting became a threat to the public safety. With the consent of the majority, local governments reasonably put an end to shooting where citizens had built their homes. That’s how things have always worked in Western civilization; that’s how things SHOULD work. There’s absolutely nothing about populous Deer Lagoon that justifies deviation from this legal and cultural norm. Nothing … at … all.