My Turn: Hunting for an answer: What happens when someone gets shot?
I am writing in response to the article in the Nov. 15 Sierra Sun entitled: Hunting in the Basin: Legal at Safe Distance.The California Department of Fish and Game thinks that it is okay to hunt and discharge a firearm 450 feet from my house. I disagree and I urge those who agree with me to write to them and to your California state senator or assemblyman and let them know.Our tourist-dependent economy touts our wilderness experience as one of the salient features of Lake Tahoe Basin amenities. I dont think the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, California Department of Tourism, Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce, or South Lake Tahoe agencies disclose in any of their marketing literature, oh, by the way, dont go into the backcountry during hunting season, you might get shot.Right now, in this glorious fall season, we are all marketing the trails, biking, hiking, fall colors, the quietness of it all, encouraging tourists to appreciate the shoulder season with the locals. What will happen when someone gets shot?My neighborhood abuts state parks land, California Conservancy land, and U.S. Forest Service, with very blurry boundary lines indicated by very small signs. I walk in the woods every day with my dog. We do a one or two mile loop along established trails that cross between these jurisdictions. There are bears back there. We see them occasionally. Our neighborhood bears are a part of living here, thats why we love it so much.The sad thing is the bears have come to know us humans as well. Unfortunately I dont think they can distinguish between my street and my walking trail, as one is safe from hunters and the other isnt.Dont get me wrong, Im not opposed to gun ownership or hunting. I own firearms and have a license to carry. I know that a 22 caliber round can travel a mile. People hunting bears are using larger caliber guns, those bullets can travel much farther distances. And, what is it exactly that constitutes a road? The back country is littered with roads, most of which a car can travel on. Can a hunter shoot across these?I appreciate more the hunter who hunts for meat rather than trophies, but respect his right to do either by law. I understand that hunting is a way to balance what nature does not do well on her own sometimes, and that man has contributed to the problem with bear overpopulation. My argument is with the law as it is written, applied to todays environment.Hunting at Lake Tahoe is downright ludicrous, especially when we encourage our visitors and residents to use the backcountry. Its time to bring the California Department of Fish and Game into the 21st century and change the laws to reflect the environment in which it is applied. That may mean different rules or different parts of the state which may be complicated. But us smart humans should be able to figure it out.If this cant be done, and done soon, then we better immediately stop promoting the Lake Tahoe Basin backcountry as a place to experience the wilderness. Tell the tourists to go home because we fed too many bears and the government cant figure out how to deal with it without allowing hunting within an unsafe distance of my backyard.Lolly Kupec is a West Shore resident.
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