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Author Topic: Hunter taking on Lake Zurich law  (Read 1517 times)

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Hunter taking on Lake Zurich law
« on: January 24, 2004, 01:42:11 PM »
By Madhu Krishnamurthy Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted 1/19/04

Never did hunter Robert Sprow imagine a wounded goose falling from the sky in a Lake Zurich neighborhood could cause so much trouble.

But the bird was a catalyst, sparking a blaze in a long-smoldering dispute between residents of Wicklow Village East subdivision and area hunters over shotgun pellets drumming on rooftops and the sound of gunshots.

It was the final straw for the residents, whose children witnessed the goose's death while standing at a neighborhood bus stop.

In an escalating sequence of events, Sprow now is fighting village hall in court so he can continue hunting on unincorporated land just outside of Lake Zurich.

After the fall of the goose, the village enacted an ordinance restricting the use of guns within the village and a quarter-mile from its boundaries. It's not known who shot the goose.

Sprow, of Island Lake, was cited for firing his gun a day after the ordinance went into effect on Dec. 12. The violation carries a fine of $750. The landowner also has been cited.

The case has aggravated hunting conservation groups throughout the state. The groups are concerned that Lake Zurich is seeking to limit the rights of hunters, even beyond its borders. Sprow is scheduled for an appearance Friday at Lake County's Mundelein courthouse.

"I'd be letting every hunter in the state down if I didn't stand my ground on the issue," said Sprow, who runs the Ultimate Waterfowlers hunting club based in Island Lake.

The issue has caught the attention of groups like the National Rifle Association, Illinois Federation for Outdoor Resources and Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

An spokeswoman with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources said Lake Zurich's ordinance will not stand up in court because it tries to regulate activity on private property beyond the village's jurisdiction. She knows of no other town in the state that has successfully done that.

Although Lake Zurich's ordinance only seeks to regulate nuisances caused by shooting guns, hunting advocates say it could set a precedent for towns looking to ban hunting altogether.

"Certainly, the department overall is concerned about the (reduction) of hunting opportunities, and we want to maintain that tradition," said Carol Knowles, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Natural Resources.

State law requires waterfowl hunters using shotguns to be 100 yards away from an occupied dwelling. Lake Zurich's ordinance does not set a minimum distance, while the maximum reach of the ordinance is a quarter-mile outside the village. Any shooting activity within that area can be deemed a nuisance if it "substantially annoys, injures or endangers the comfort, health, repose or safety of any person within the corporate limits of the village."

Village Attorney Mark Burkland says hunters are overlooking a key aspect of the ordinance, which does not wholly prohibit hunting.

"It doesn't regulate hunting at all except if hunters create a serious threat to the health and safety of people who live close to where they're hunting," he said. "If hunters are conducting themselves properly and safely, this ordinance does not affect them at all."

Burkland says the Department of Natural Resources is wrong to call the village's ordinance illegal.

"There's a provision of the Illinois Municipal Code which allows the village the power to regulate or prohibit outside of its borders businesses or activity that create these consequences," he said.

But Knowles says case law does not support that argument. She cited a 1989 4th District Appellate Court decision in the case of the village of Goodfield vs. Jamison. The court held "a municipality's authority to declare nuisance ends at the municipality's corporate limits."

That case was not hunting-related, but rather about a hog transfer station looking to locate near the edge of the central Illinois town. Village officials were trying to stop the hog station because of potential odors from pens and fears of lower property values.

Today, the hog station is still in operation.

"It didn't cause the extent of nuisance that they thought it would," said then-village board member Roger Mullins, now Goodfield's public works administrator. "None of the things we suspected happened. We received no complaints from people. Ten years down the road, you wonder why did we spend $20,000 on that deal."

Burkland contends Goodfield had a different case and an entirely different situation.

Sprow, who has a five-year lease on the unincorporated property near Lake Zurich, contends the new ordinance threatens his livelihood.

"I have been here my entire life, and I've turned my love for the outdoors into how I make my living and support my family," he said. "The audacity of these people to try and regulate what happens on private property ... These people that move out here, what do they expect? Everything has to stop because they moved out here?"

Lake Zurich residents are eager to see a resolution.

"I think a child's safety takes precedence over the hunter's privileged rights," resident Jeffrey Mangano said. "Right now, this is a recipe for disaster."

However, Mangano doubts the village will win its case.

"I suspect that we are not going to have a ruling in our favor," he said. "I understand state law supersedes a city ordinance. I think we're in the wrong venue. This needs to get to another level, which is to Lake County."

Meanwhile, hunters say they are losing more and more traditional hunting areas to urban sprawl in the collar counties.

Libertyville hunter Mauro Tomassetti fears if Lake Zurich's ordinance is upheld, it will have a ripple effect on the entire state. He owns unincorporated land near Round Lake where he hunts with his family, but development is springing up around him.

"The concern nowadays is we're running out of space so close to home, and we're having to travel a long distance to (hunt)," he said.

Lake Zurich Mayor Jim Krischke says that's part of life, and hunters just have to find other locations.

"There's a time and place for it," he said. "Do they want this in their back yard? Do it legally wherever you want, but make sure it's in an area that isn't so disrupting to everyday life. There are areas no more than 10 minutes away that are available (for hunting) and remote from schools, churches and residential areas."

Hunting conservationists say it won't be long before those areas are affected too.

Geoff Kishpaugh, regional director for the Illinois Federation for Outdoor Resources out of Fox Lake, says Cook County has hardly any private hunting areas remaining, and Lake, DuPage and McHenry counties are following suit.

"We can't hunt in the Jewel parking lot," he said. "The habitat we have available is pretty much encroached by housing buildings."

Knowles said the Illinois Department of Natural Resources tries to buy land for hunting wherever available, but there is not much open land left around Chicago.

In Lake County, most hunting is done on private property, though public hunting grounds are available at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Deer Lake and Volo Bog. McHenry and Cook counties each have just one public hunting area at Moraine Hills State Park and William W. Powers Conservation Area, respectively. DuPage and Kane counties have no public hunting grounds.

Several hunting conservation groups have hired a lobbyist to represent them in Springfield to help preserve the hunting tradition.

"Right now, the immediate concern is to protect our rights to recreate in Illinois and to basically have no net loss of our privileges because we feel they are being taken away piece by piece," Kishpaugh said. "Pretty soon there will be nothing left. The future of hunting depends on every one of us."
The only purpose of bread is to hold meat!

John Andrews Is My Hero!

In all seriousness, the Marlin is a great rifle, too. I own a Model 60, one of the best rifles ever made.
Brownings are nice, but in terms of quality AND accuarcy AND ruggedness, it's hard to beat the Marlin.
California sucks that's it.


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