Middleboro Conservation Commission lifts hunting ban on conservation properties
MIDDLEBORO — After a Nov. 30 decision to ban hunting on town-owned conservation land in Middleboro sparked concern among local hunters, the town's conservation commission decided to rescind the vote during its meeting on Thursday, Dec. 7.
Conservation Commission chair Diane Stewart said the decision was made to prohibit hunting on conservation land temporarily because the commission did not yet have a policy in place.
“What I was trying to do, obviously badly and I apologize for that, was just to have a policy that mirrored state law for clarity sake,” said Stewart. “The state law prohibits hunting on public land unless it is specifically permitted.”
“It is not our intent to prohibit hunting,” she added. “I don’t think it is fair for us to just do a blanket ban on hunting on all conservation land.”
Multiple residents, including Jonathan Kajanpaa, voiced their concern about the initial ban.
“I think there [was] a shock to the hunting community that hunting wasn’t allowed...on conservation properties,” said Kajanpaa.
Kajanpaa said that he spent a lot of time over the past couple of years trying to figure out which land parcels people can hunt on in Middleboro.
“There is a watershed app that has the entire town marked as to what activities are allowed in what areas,” he said. “it is deceiving where there is marking for zone A, zone B and zone C with light recreational activities being allowed, specifically listing hunting.
“It implies that because the town of Middleboro doesn’t have any laws or rules against hunting that we can therefore hunt in these properties,” said Kajanpaa.
Conservation Agent Patricia Cassady said that she wants to get input from hunters when it comes to labelling parcels appropriate for hunting.
“The first thing that comes to my mind is when someone is opposing [hunting] it has to do with safety,” said Middleboro Sportsmen's Club President Frank Dunphy. He said that there hasn’t been a fatal hunting accident involving a non-hunter in Middleboro.
“As far as folks walking on trails, they have just as much right as the sportsmen,” said Dunphy.
Resident Allin Frawley expressed his appreciation for the town acquiring the Oliver Estate property and the allowance of hunting on the land.
“It’s important to know that these parcels wouldn’t be available for us to hunt if the conservation commission didn’t acquire them on our behalf,” said Frawley.
Stewart suggested that hunters call the conservation office before going to conserved properties to determine if they are able to hunt on the land. Stewart also said that the commission hopes to install signs regarding hunting status at each property.