Guest Column (Aug. 28, 2008)


Williston firearms ordinance amended favorably for sportsmen

Aug. 28, 2008
By Frank Stanley

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 very restrictive and would have unnecessarily shut down hunting on almost 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. 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. 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 Monday evening, Aug.18 the  Williston Selectboard favorably amended its Firearms Ordinance to be less restrictive and grant greater flexibility to the Selectboard in allowing hunting on town owned lands. Everyone 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.

If you look at the National Safety Council’s statistics on accidental deaths in the United States, hunting is considered one of the safest forms of outdoor recreation. A person is 40 times more likely to be struck by lightning than by a hunter’s bullet. Due to the efforts of The Vermont Traditions Coalition, Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, The Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife, Bill Cleary of the Powderhorn Outdoor Sports Shop and others working together with former Williston Environmental Coordinator Carrie Deegan and the Williston Selectboard, a reasonable solution was found.

This is a big win for both the people and wildlife of Williston. Thank you to everyone who contributed to keeping town lands truly town lands.

The newly enacted ordinance will soon be available on the Town of Williston Web site.

Frank Stanley does government affairs and public outreach for the Vermont Traditions Coalition, a nonprofit group of traditional land use organizations from throughout Vermont.