‘River hunters’ cause concern

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 9, 2008

WINDSOR – Several concerned citizens spoke before the Bertie County Commissioners during their regular meeting Monday morning to address the growing problem of firearms in boats.

Representing a group of landowners, Rickie Leggett stated, &uot;There is a situation on part of the Roanoke River, which is in Bertie County… the law is different there and we are proposing extending the rule down to the (Albemarle) sound.&uot;

He continued, &uot;This would help us enforce not being able to hunt from boats; it’s a safety issue.&uot;

Currently, hunting from boats is illegal, but according to Leggett, that doesn’t stop people from discharging weapons from a boat.

&uot;Years ago the Bertie County Commissioners addressed it when hikers and campers said they felt like they were being shot at, so it was made illegal upstream. Now we’re asking you to do the same for downstream,&uot; he explained.

Leggett went on, &uot;It’s illegal to hunt from a boat anyway, but it is difficult to enforce, so we want it so the gun has to be in a case.&uot;

He added, &uot;There’s so much land available now through public conservatory, but these guys who are doing this have grown up thinking anywhere they can go on a boat it’s okay to hunt.&uot;

According to Leggett, violators are notoriously difficult to convict and the problem has gotten worse in the last two years, possibly coming from members of large hunting clubs.

&uot;The guys who asked me to come here, some of them have been shot at and shot over; it’s a serious matter,&uot; Leggett concluded.

County Manager Zee Lamb said the state legislative short session begins in May, and that they would attempt to get something introduced at that time.

During the second public comments session of the meeting, a Woodard man stood and recounted his personal experience with the same issue.

&uot;I have been the recipient of a shot; it didn’t physically harm me, but it scared me to death,&uot; he stated.

The man told commissioners he lives right on the river bank at Sans Souci.

Brownie Douglas, another concerned citizen who is a part-time county resident, also made his feelings known.

&uot;I could sit here and list to you for days the (hunting) infractions that occur from the river and it’s gotten worse in the last couple of years,&uot; he stated.

Chairman of the Commissioners, Norman Cherry assured everyone, &uot;When the General Assembly meets again, some decision will be made.&uot;