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Mapleton OKs bow hunting in village

October 17, 2013 at 04:30 AM

Peoria Journal Star

MAPLETON — The Village Board on Tuesday adopted a controversial ordinance change that allows bow hunting of deer within village limits with restrictions.

Mayor Aaron Stone broke a 3-3 tie, voting for the change. Per village code, the mayor does not vote unless there is a tie.

The ordinance change allows but restricts bow hunting to deer only for people and the relatives of people who own at least five acres of property, and as long as the hunting takes place at least 100 yards from any occupied dwelling.

The ordinance change also states that if a wounded deer goes onto another person’s property, the hunter needs to get permission from the property owner to retrieve the deer.

“I wish I didn’t have to make that decision,” Stone said.

Trustees Mike Tindall, Kate Mullen and Rayann Hardin voted for the ordinance change, while Trustees Frank Hubbell, Michelle Kircher and Bill Hodges voted against it.

The bow hunting provision gained attention after residents against it wrote to newspapers and circulated a petition that gained 80 signatures, or close to a third of the village population.

Stone said a communication gap hid the facts about bow hunting and how harmless it really is. And the facts are why he voted for it.

“It’s all based on facts,” Stone said. “It’s not my prerogative (as mayor) to use my own opinion.”

Hodges said he didn’t vote for the change because he didn’t think it was clear enough and that it wouldn’t benefit the village.

“This was really overblown,” Hodges said. “People really took it entirely too serious.”

The main concern of residents was safety, citing children on nearby nature trails and the prospect of wounded and scared deer running onto their properties.

“I think they’re moving backwards, not forwards,” said Sherry Boswell, a village resident for 47 years. “I think the mayor should have abstained.”

“He shouldn’t have voted because he had his own agenda,” Patti Monks, a former trustee who spearheaded the petition effort, said about Stone casting the deciding vote. “That’s a real big red flag.”

But Stone said his deciding vote was not a result of his own views.

At Tuesday’s meeting, resident Paula Osborn echoed that view.

“It seems like a lot of emotion instead of statistics and facts,” Osborn said, adding that she thinks the board should decide based on facts about bow hunting.

Residents could pick up a packet of information at the meeting detailing facts on bow hunting and statistics on accidents caused by deer in Peoria.

Some residents who signed the petition read fiery speeches against the ordinance change at the meeting, with one resident asking Stone to resign.

Resident Molly Hicks said that with six children, she wouldn’t feel safe outside with bow hunting legalized within the village.

“I have nothing against hunting,” said Hicks, who said she has hunted before and comes from a hunting family. “An accident can happen at any time.”

Director of Hollis Park District Jim Robertson also spoke at the meeting on behalf of the Park Board and said he was specifically concerned about the safety of people in the park.

“You never know when people will be in and out of the park,” Robertson said.

Robertson said the best outcome would have been to add more restrictions to bow hunting in the ordinance, including putting a 10-acre limit, increasing the buffer zone to 200 yards from occupied property, and placing deer stands facing away from the park.

The changes in ordinances are part of Stone’s efforts to clarify the village code.

Vikaas Shanker can be reached at 686-3194 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow him on Twitter @VikaasPJStar.

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