Firearms ordinance amended

WILLISTON Last fall, because of a few complaints, the Town of Williston was asked to take a look at its firearms ordinance. As a result, proposed amendments were offered that created inconsistencies with numerous state laws, were perceived by some as restrictive and would have likely shut down hunting on all town lands. A public hearing was held in December 2007 and the concerns from both the non-sporting and sporting community members were heard. Local hunters and non hunters alike voiced concerns about wildlife population control. Without hunting as a wildlife management tool you can see population explosion in species like coyote, deer, raccoon and other furbearers, said Frank Stanley of the Vermont Traditions Coalition. This can pose threats to the community, such as density dependent diseases like rabies and lyme disease, habitat destruction from over grazing, destruction of agricultural crops and personal property, and increase in wildlife/human incidents and missing pets. On Aug. 18, the Williston Selectboard amended its firearm ordinance to be less restrictive with greater flexibility in allowing hunting on town owned lands. Those present voted in favor of the amendments except board member Jeff Fehrs, who wanted it on the record, that he was against the proposed amendments because he feels that keeping town-owned land open for hunting, is a public safety concern. According to the National Safety Councils statistics on accidental deaths in the U.S., hunting is considered one of the safest forms of outdoor recreation. A person is 40 times more likely to be struck by lighting, than by a hunters bullet. The Vermont Traditions Coalition, Vermont Federation,of Sportsmen's Clubs, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bill Cleary of the Powderhorn Outdoor Sports Shop, and others worked together, with former Williston Environmental Coordinator Carrie Deegan and the Williston Selectboard, to find a solution that did not exclude sportsman and women. This is a big win for both the people and wildlife of Williston, according to Stanley. The newly enacted ordinance will soon be available on the Town of Williston web site.

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