2016-09-15 / Front Page

Policy: Ban bow hunting

By Ben Meiklejohn
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD – The policy committee voted unanimously on Monday, Sept. 12 to recommend to the city council that bow hunting be prohibited in city parks. Recreation Director Carl Walsh said the proposal is a precautionary measure, because while the city bans firearms in its parks, it has no restriction on bow hunting.

“Right now, we couldn’t find anything that excludes bow hunting,” Walsh said. “For example, Clifford Park, it gets more use now. The idea was that we at least bring this forward by October before bow hunting season starts.”

Walsh said somebody from out of town contacted the city to inquire if they could bow hunt in parks, and when Walsh contacted the chief about it, they discovered there were no formal restrictions.

“There have been no incidents, it’s just one of those things that it was time to look at,” Walsh said. “It’s about public safety.”

Police Chief Beaupre, who provides staff support for the committee, said he compiled all ordinances related to the city’s parks and wants to propose that the policy committee consolidate and streamline the city’s park ordinances so that they will be easier to understand.

“Anybody trying to wade through the pages of that chapter would easily get confused on the different parks and different rules,” Beaupre said. “The problem with rules is, rules are fine as long as they’re consistent. When they become varied and inconsistent, they become confusing.”

Beaupre said for now, prohibiting bow hunting from all city parks by hunting season should be the priority.

City Councilor Michael Ready, chairman of the policy committee, said usually the committee doesn’t convene a meeting for just one item, but the timeliness of this issue necessitated action. The council will also likely have to have two readings of the proposal in one day to pass the ordinance by bow hunting season.

City Councilor Rick Laverriere said he liked the direction Beaupre was going to consolidate the city’s park rules.

“Anything we can do to improve it and make it simpler,” he said.

Beaupre said while all the city’s parks have their own rules, generally, the city would be best to have the same rules for all the parks, with some occasional exceptions noted, such as keeping St. Louis field accessible for the La Kermesse Franco-Americaine Festival.

“There are two parks already that have different sets of rules and for rational reasons,” Beaupre said. “Last year, the council voted to make St. Louis Field accessible for La Kermesse and I had to retain that exception, thinking ahead. Certainly it’s a point of discussion, but certainly we can’t forget to include places like that where we’re going to have certain events.”

Beaupre said moving forward, the policy committee should make sure it develops a comprehensive park policy that includes all the varying needs of all the parks, so that the council won’t have to amend the ordinance “by patchwork.”

“Once you pave a street, nobody likes to go in and cut it,” Beaupre said.

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