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Weapons ordinance challenged
Resident wants bow usage prohibited in Ortonville

by Susan Bromley

October 19, 2011

Ortonville- Concern for the safety of people and domesticated animals has prompted Kim Davis to request the village council forbid the use of crossbows and compound bows within the village limits.

Archery season runs through Jan. 1. A weapons ordinance from 1957 makes it unlawful to fire "any gun or guns, revolver or revolvers, pistol or pistols, cartridge or cartridges of any kind or nature in any street, alley or other public place, or in any yard or private place in the Village of Ortonville."

Davis wants that ordinance expanded to include bows after a neighbor on Timberwood Trail put up a blind roughly 300 feet behind her home and up against the fence of property on Sherman Court shortly after he bought his property near the end of August. Davis requested the ordinance be amended at the Oct. 10 village council meeting.

"Until the council deals with it, it's unfinished business," she said. "My concern is that there are people hunting on property privately or publicly owned in the village and crossbows are as dangerous as guns. They have the same characteristics as guns— gunstocks, triggers, optical sights and they can shoot with the same impact as a rifle."

A DNR officer came out and fined her neighbor for hunting within 450-feet of an occupied dwelling (without permission of the dwelling's owner), as well as for having too much bait on a bait pile, said Village Council President Wayne Wills; however, he believes the information Davis said she was given regarding the lethal distance of a bow is incorrect. Davis said she was told by the DNR officer that at 800 feet, an arrow could penetrate his vest and kill him.

DNR Lt. David Malloch said that typically, hunters sight for 40-50 yards as the maximum range to harvest an animal, but the distance an arrow can travel from a crossbow or compound bow varies based on terrain, angle, and the size of the bow.

"It's very hard to say what the maximum distance is for an arrow to travel," he said. "The 450-foot safety zone is adequate when tied in to other laws in place, such as laws restricting letting dogs run loose and recreational trespass, which forbids trespassing on other people's property. If those are followed, people and animals won't be where they are not supposed to be. Coupled with responsible hunters knowing what is behind their target before he or she shoots, these should provide necessary safety."

Davis, who has lived in the village for eight years, notes that kids play out in the woods, and they, as well as adults, use a walkable path at the end of her subdivision that goes over to Hummer Lake Road.

"I am concerned for their safety and for people walking along adjacent property," she said. "I grew up in a family of hunters, so I understand, but I think when you have a village that is one square mile in size, it's not the place for it."

Tim Payne, DNR southeast regional manager for the wildlife division, said in Oakland County, the number of deer exceed the DNR's population goal, which is less than 20 deer per square mile. The current numbers are closer to 30.

"Deer adapt really well to a protected environment, such as an area like Ortonville," he said. "If you can hunt safely, we encourage it."

This is not the first time concern over the safety of bow hunting in the village has been presented.

In December 2006, the village council proposed banning bow hunting in the village after then-Manager Ed Coy discovered two tree stands while walking the 48-acre parcel of village-owned property that runs from Granger Road north to Mill Street, directly west of the Crescent Hills subdivision and east of the H.T. Burt/Harvey Swanson complex. Action on a ban was postponed after several residents protested and the council learned they would need a DNR hearing to proceed.

In September 2007, less than two weeks after the election of four new councilmembers, the council voted to take no action on the weapons ordinance, allowing bow hunting to continue in the village.

Malloch noted the village council can request the DNR investigate the need for a hunting control. Upon such a request, the DNR would investigate and hold a public hearing at which input would be taken regarding past complaints, incidents and accidents. A determination would then be made on whether a local hunting control needs to be put in place.

The village council's next meeting is planned for 7 p.m., Oct. 24, at the township offices, 395 Mill St. Wills said he had no plans for a discussion on the matter until the Nov. 28 village council meeting.