Youth deer hunt is on

Resident calls plan a ‘slaughter’
By: Nathan Donato-Weinstein Gold Country News Service
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Expanding a controversial youth deer hunt got the OK from Placer County’s Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday amid a rancorous discussion on both sides. Members voted 4-3 to accept the state’s recommendation, which amounts to tripling the number of antlerless deer from 25 to 75, which young hunters can kill across a broad swath of local lands. Commission members Rob Haswell and Kari Freidig dissented. But the advisory-only decision won’t dampen any passionate feelings, which flared during the standing-room-only meeting. “This is not a real sport, but cruel slaughter that only teaches killing – not sportsmanship,” Loomis resident James Hirshinger told the commission . State officials say the hunt expansion would help collect information on the area’s deer herd, expand hunting opportunities for youth ages 12-16 and could reduce the deer population, preventing deer-auto collisions. The proposal was brought to the fore after District 4 Supervisor Kirk Uhler raised the roadkill issue, asking the commission to look into it. “If we can take care of these issues with hunting rather than depredation, at least there’s a good use of the deer,” state biologist Craig Stowers said. Under the terms of the hunt, private landowners who want to participate would allow hunters onto their property in return for a stipend from the state. Anti-hunt advocates, many wearing signs asking to “ban the bogus deer hunt,” said that puts people nearby in danger, and questioned whether young hunters were properly trained. Most of those against the youth hunt were from Loomis and Granite Bay, where the roadkill problem has been pronounced, and where participating hunters could be directed. “There’s no research to justify it,” said Marilyn Jasper of Loomis. “Placer County already has an abundance of land for hunting opportunities.” Others, including third-grader Gemma Rose, of Loomis, spoke of preventing animal cruelty. “Me and my mom like watching the deer roam around,” Gemma said. “It would be very sad watching one die or be hurt.” But 14-year-old hunter Austin Shrader of Weimar said youth hunters are properly trained and respect the animals they take. “I come from a hunting background,” Austin said. “I’m safe and I know how to be safe with a gun.” Capt. Roy Griffith of the Department of Fish and Game said youth hunters have to complete a 10-hour course in hunter safety and ethics. “We find across the state of California, our junior hunter is the safest out there,” he said. Bob Smeja, of Loomis, agreed. “I mentored my boys and I mentored them in the field,” said the National Rifle Association member. “If you’re gonna be scared of every little thing, then don’t get in your car.” Pat Fitzmorris of Newcastle is the regional director of the California Deer Association. He said a controlled hunt is a “scientifically sound” way to reduce deer population. Brian Jagger, district director for Supervisor Kirk Uhler, said Wednesday night Uhler’s focus is on residents’ safety more than hunting. “If this helps, great, but were still looking at other options, like adding eight new deer warning signs,” he said. The Board of Supervisors holds veto power over the hunt expansion, but if a supervisor does not place the item on an upcoming agenda it will be considered OK with the county and go forward to the state’s Fish and Game Commission for approval. Loomis resident Janet Thew said her group, Ban the Bogus Deer Hunt, will push supervisors to take a vote on it. “If they think it’s a good idea they should stand up and say so,” she said. ------------------- Proposal: Expand number of deer tags available in the area from 25 to 75 Who would hunt: Hunters aged 12-16 would be eligible, as long as they’ve taken a hunting-safety course Where they could hunt: Under the state program called SHARE, private landowners in the D-4 area (including Loomis and Granite Bay) would give their permission for individuals to hunt on their property, in return for a stipend What happens next: The Placer County Board of Supervisors could reject the expansion. If supervisors do not take action, the expansion automatically goes to the state’s Fish and Game Commission for final approval.