Editorial: State park a terrible place for hunting

Posted 1/17/19

Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management bends over backwards to make life good for permit-paying hunters, but sometimes goes too far.

Case in point is what’s been going …

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Editorial: State park a terrible place for hunting

Posted

Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management bends over backwards to make life good for permit-paying hunters, but sometimes goes too far.

Case in point is what’s been going on in Mill Gut, a small tidal pond within busy Colt State Park.

Walkers along the park’s paths have been startled lately by the close-at-hand din of shotguns, often a half dozen or more blasts in rapid fire.

Could this possibly be legal, those in charge were asked.

A park employee reached by phone said he and a colleague there with him were not sure, but both had heard the noise and seen hunters. He suggested a call to DEM Enforcement.

An officer there said that, yes, duck hunting is allowed out on the bay, offshore from the park, and also in the inner reaches of the pond, parts of which are more than the required 500 feet from any occupied building. But what about the walking paths that line both sides of Mill Gut, and the road at neighboring Coggeshall Farm?
Not a problem, he said, adding that hunters certainly have the good sense to shoot away from the paths and roads.

But it is a problem, potentially a frightful one. Not only do people hike the waterfront paths, but this waterway is also a state shellfish management area. Lately, clammers by the dozen have been wading well out into the Gut.

Beyond the obvious safety issue is the fact that gunfire, seemingly way too close for comfort, ruins the enjoyment of a good day’s walk for everyone else. It shatters the quiet, spooks dogs, and sends hikers away in search of someplace more pleasant.

As one reader wrote, it is unthinkable that “in this calm, tranquil place where people walk their dogs and women push their youngest of children in baby carriages, there were hunters with guns to shoot ducks.”

The state needs to rethink a policy that allows a few hunters to diminish the safe enjoyment of a state park by everyone else.

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Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.