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Legislature to Reduce Hunting Safety Zone

The Maryland General Assembly is considering legislation to change the long-established hunting safety zone law by reducing the safety zone for bow-hunting near homes, churches, and other occupied buildings from 450 feet to a mere 150 feet.  This change will allow hunting in new areas, including in residential neighborhoods in Anne Arundel County, Harford, St. Mary’s, and Calvert Counties. Hearings on some of these bills have already been held this past week, and resident input is critical and time-sensitive. 

(If you live in Anne Arundel, Harford, St. Mary’s or Calvert County, or your Senator sits on the Education, Health & Environmental Affairs Committee, you can let your Legislators know you are opposed to this incresed danger by clicking here.)

A tiny sample of pets injured & killed by bow-hunting
Bow Hunting: Pet Tragedies
Click image above to view or search cat dog shot with arrow

The bills seek to reduce the protective safety zone in order to open up new recreational hunting areas, including new hunting activity in populated areas and neighborhoods. The safety of families, children, and pets will be at increased risk. Backyard hunting will increase as a result of the change to the law, and any person hunting, including children, will be able to shoot a deadly weapon at animals and birds a mere 150 feet from a neighbor's house.

The chances of a bad shot with an arrow is a cruel reality, regardless of the skill of the archer.  Numerous variables come into play affecting the trajectory of the arrow as well as the movement of the animal, with many arrows never hitting their intended target. That is why there is a 900 foot hunting safety zone around schools. If anything, the safety zone around people’s houses should be increased, not reduced, and the safety zone should include people’s yards where many family activities take place, not just measured from the house.

Conflicts between hunters and residents will increase as hunters move in closer proximity to homes, yards, and occupied areas. The tragedy of pets being shot by arrows is already alarming, and reports of wounded and suffering animals and pets will increase as more populated areas are opened to hunting under these bills.

There are many shortcomings associated with bow-hunting safety, including safety recalls of bow-hunting equipment. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has recently recalled multiple brands of crossbows which were deemed hazardous to users and bystanders due to the unexpected firing of arrows, and has recalled numerous defective arrows deemed hazardous due to hitting unintended targets.

Bow-hunting has significant wounding and crippling rates, and these animals endure suffering. Many of the animals wounded by arrow require repeated shots by the hunter while being pursued by the hunter on foot as the animal bleeds out. Many of the wounded animals are never recovered. Bow-hunting commits each animal hit to lingering agony, and this is true whether the wound is eventually fatal or not.

We all know that things can and do go wrong with any method of hunting. While a hunting license is necessary to bow-hunt in Maryland, hunters are not required to demonstrate proficiency with archery equipment. Children of any age can hunt unsupervised in Maryland, and children are allowed to use hunting equipment designed to maim and kill, the same as adult hunters. If this bill passes, hunters, including children, could be using deadly weapons a mere 150 feet from people's homes.

Putting the public at increased safety risk is not an acceptable deer management tool. With denser populations of people, the use of deadly weapons is inherently dangerous with increased opportunities for conflicts and increased safety risks.

Maryland residents have an expectation that their elected representatives will work to ensure their safety, not weaken existing public safety laws. Unfortunately these bills, sponsored by Maryland legislators, will put the safety of families, children, and pets at increased risk. Residents are going to have to stand up and speak out to protect the existing hunting safety zone, and to protect their families, children, and pets. (Legislative Bill numbers: HB321, HB20, HB516, SB46).

(If you live in Anne Arundel, Harford, St. Mary’s or Calvert County, or your Senator sits on the Education, Health & Environmental Affairs Committee, you can let your Legislators know you are opposed to this incresed danger by clicking here.)


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