Guest Post by Sharon Holmstrom
A wonderful variety of creatures live along the North Fork and Wolf Creek drainages. Many are human residents and then there are what the Division of Wildlife Resources classifies as “resident” deer. These are deer who do not migrate to the high mountains when winter ends but spend generations living in the same small area. They are acclimated to humans and their “home” habitat. They mate, raise babies in the thickets along the streams and please us with their presence. In the deepest part of the harsh winters, many of us feed them. In many communities, including ours, the presence of wildlife has been cited as part of the “quality of life” that residents seek to protect. Hunting these animals in residential areas is akin to walking into the zoo and, after you have shot the tiger, boasting that you have been “big game hunting”.
A number of the human residents of Eden have encountered problems with hunters in the past: hunters who show up with rifles, dressed in camo, crossing our driveways and fences to hunt in our fields and common areas. We were told by the county sheriff’s department that in order to have protection from these hunters we must post our property. In anticipation of this year’s bow hunt, we posted private property and common areas. We let it be known throughout the neighborhoods that we did not want hunters. Even with all these precautions, a local resident told a relative by the name of Logan that he could shoot a deer on his property.
This is legal within certain perimeters. First, the bow hunter must have WRITTEN permission from any household within 600 feet of the shooting site i.e. the spot where you shoot the animal be it in the open or from a constructed blind. (pg.40, 2010 Utah Big Game Guidebook) A homeowner may give you permission to kill an animal on his property but you still may not break the law by discharging a weapon in the vicinity of an unwilling land owner.
As bow hunters know, unless you are a crack shot or fire two arrows, the animal you kill may take some time to die, sometimes in an agonizing way. To assume that the deer you shot would remain on the property is unrealistic. A beautiful buck who has lived in our neighborhood for perhaps several years and was well known to all who watched him was shot by Logan late Saturday evening. His blood trail led across a county road and down into the common area of Eden Hills subdivision, where he died and lay unrecovered through the night. The homeowners association had not only posted this property as No Trespassing but had a citizen’s watch over the area.
Logan and a hunting partner trespassed on the posted common area the next morning, where they were discovered by irate residents of Eden Hills. He has been charged by DWR with criminal trespass which carries a fine and possible jail sentence. His partner was issued a warning.
If you wish to protect yourself from invasive hunters this is how you must post your property. “Properly posted” means that No Trespassing signs are displayed at all corners, on fishing streams crossing property lines, on roads, gates and rights –of-way entering. (pg.42, 2010 Utah Big Game Guidebook). For those residents living in a smaller lot subdivision this probably means posting your front, side and back yards. Violating land thus posted is a Class B misdemeanor. The consensus of the residents involved is that there should be no hunting in residential neighborhoods. It’s dangerous and it is not sporting. What is sporting is the hunters who make the effort to hunt the “wild” game in the mountains.
You may obtain a free copy of the 2010 Utah Big Game Guidebook at the Division of Wildlife Resources office in South Ogden.