Chesterton Tribune



County parks deer hunting tabled; board member wants background checks

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The Porter County Park Board, Thursday, tabled a proposed policy on deer hunting sought by resident Bryan McFadden, president of the Quality Deer Management Association Northwest Indiana chapter.

McFadden first approached the board last fall about allowing archery deer hunting on park lands not currently used by the public.

Benefits include controlling deer populations and harvesting the deer meat, which can be processed at local food pantries and given to families who are less fortunate McFadden said.

In March McFadden gave a report on deer activity at park land in Liberty and Pine townships. The areas studied did not include heavily used Sunset Hill park.

Park board members were generally favorable to the idea and asked McFadden to bring to them a written report of the regulations he would like to put in place.

The plan was also favored by the Izaak Walton League Porter County chapter.

The board on Thursday began asking McFadden about subjects they felt were missing in his policy such as fees and what will be the format for the classes.

McFadden said youth would be able to learn archery in a class setting that could lead to lessons on how to hunt. He said there are grants that can be pursued to support the programs but fees will likely be needed to get the program on its feet.

Hunting reservations would be done on a first come, first serve basis and there will be a limited number of days one could take the class so other residents could have an opportunity to sign up, McFadden said.

It sounds like there is a plan. We just need to get it into policy,” said board member Craig Kenworthy.

McFadden said drawing a plan together is difficult because each park property has different characteristics. He said, with a bit of frustration, he’s been to the board months before and still hasn’t received direction on how to develop a plan.

Board member David Canright suggested that McFadden be given time to work with park staff on “massaging” details into the policy and present it to the board in the next month or so, in time to get hunting started in the fall.

I can’t see getting it done this year unless we turn it over to our staff and have them bring it back in June or July,” Canright said.

Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos said he hopes his department can revise the policy in the next two weeks.

Kenworthy reiterated his wish that background checks be required for all those participating in the programs, given the fact that weapons are being used.

McFadden argued that requiring background checks could stifle the number of registrants by adding extra red tape. “What’s the point of having a program if no one comes?”

But Kenworthy said that all a check needs is a name, birthday and address and a small fee. Places like schools, steel mills and other workplaces require background checks.

It’s the way of the world. It’s $5. It’s not that burdensome,” he said. “It’s a lock. It keeps an honest person honest.”

McFadden said he’s not opposed to the policy requiring background checks but that is already taken care of when a person receives their hunting license from the Department of Natural Resources.

Board attorney David Hollenback said it would need to be decided in the policy what criteria would exclude someone from participating if it is found they in fact have committed a felony in the past.

With time needed to address the matters, the board voted 4-0 to table the policy. Absent from the meeting were members Annetta Jones and Tom Schnabel.

From the floor, environmentalist Charlotte Read asked for clarification if the deer hunting and archery programs would be regarded as a program of the County Parks or McFadden’s organization.

Lenckos said the parks department has featured archery at its youth summer camps which has been wildly popular.

He considers archery to be part of parks programming but the deer hunting would be a separate program by Quality Deer Management.

McFadden said it’s his intention to “provide bow hunters with an avenue to use their skills” and hunting won’t be pushed on those only wanting to learn archery.

Other Policies

The board signed off on two other policies with votes of 4-0. One would give the parks more flexibility on having a food vendor. Lenckos said last year a request for qualifications was sent to find a vendor for events at Sunset Hill Farm such as cross-country meets but no one submitted, there was too small of a market. The new policy would welcome food trucks or allow the parks department to sell food itself.

The other is a “naming” policy that sets regulations on using park assets to honor the memory of someone or recognize supporters.

Board member Drew Armstrong said the policy should reflect that the parks department is not looking to take money just for name recognition on an asset.

A true philanthropist would not buy something just to buy something just to have their name all over it,” he said.



Posted 5/8/2015




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