Should bow hunting for deer be allowed in Burlington's Landlocked Forest?
That question was posed to the Board of Selectmen during Monday night's meeting. The board did not make any decision on the question but stated it would create a sub-committee to solicit input from the community and consider the issue.
Chair of the Board Ralph Patuto said the town has bylaws against discharging firearms in Burlington, making hunting with shotguns or rifles de facto outlawed. However, it does not have any specific no-hunting rules, which allows for bow hunting.
Patuto added that hunting in the Landlocked Forest has taken place for decades. To date, the board has been silent on the issue.
There were representatives on both sides of the issue at the meeting, those for and against bow hunting on town owned property.
A representative for those against bow hunting said that though there has not been any reported injuries a single incident would be a sad event and a liability for the town. She said that many people use the forest for walking, hiking and biking, including Boy Scouts who do orienteering, and that hunting could pose a risk for those enjoying other recreational activities.
She also pointed out there are now signs alerting hikers that hunting may be taking place in the forest.
A proponent of bow hunting in the forest said that the chance of injury is low. He said that because bows have much less range than firearms, hunters must get close to the target animal, usually within 20-30 yards, and have a clear view of the deer before releasing an arrow.
He also said that bow hunting would help the town control the deer population.
Selectman Daniel Grattan said he would create the sub-committee to address the question.
Patuto said he was hesitant to outlaw a recreational activity on town land.
"We take property to conserve it," he said. "To prohibit one particular group from using it, especially residents, has to be looked at hard. Equality is the way to go. I’m not in favor of prohibiting recreational use for property that was taken for recreation."
What do you think? Should bow hunting be allowed on town owned land? Let us know in the comments section below.