If you read this blog, you have probably already learned of the efforts by some area residents to end hunting on Eld Inlet. A focus of at least one local web site, Eyes Over Eld is to reduce or eliminate the shooting on the Inlet. Last spring, a message thread appeared on Hunting-Washington.com, to discuss the topic. On July 30, a community meeting was held. Hunters, area residents, representatives from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, and county officials discussed whether a No Shooting Zone or a Controlled Shooting Zone should be established for the southwestern shore of Eld Inlet. Following that meeting, Commissioner Karen Valenzuela committed to engage with hunters, local residents and regulatory bodies in order to, it is hoped, resolve the matter.
For the most part, opinions have come from relatively predictable perspectives. Shoreline residents have complained of noise, water pollution, and even risks to personal safety. Reports of gunfire, shells casings floating up on beaches, and even pellets raining down on the roofs of homeowners have been made public. Hunters have argued they are safely hunting in-season and in the areas permitted by law.
Recently, we received email from an area resident that brings a perspective somewhat different from those we’ve heard, to-date. This resident writes that many people may not realize important funding for wildlife habitat comes directly from hunters and fishermen. “Licenses and taxes on hunting and fishing gear generate hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for wildlife work.”
“Alas, the purchase of a bird field guide or binoculars does not raise even a single thin dime for conservation.”
Residents opposed to hunting on Eld have brought up the status of Eld Inlet scoter ducks. There is material, online, which documents a population decline in these ducks. However, “scoter ducks nest in the boreal forests of Canada — and the single biggest contributor to the purchase of lands to protect nesting habitat has been Ducks Unlimited — a duck hunter’s group. Audubon works very hard on education and legislation but it is generally not in the business of purchasing and protecting scoter habitat.”
I spoke, at length, with one of the young men who quickly admitted he was one of the shooters blasting away one Sunday morning. Everything he did was within the laws of the land. However, one can be law abiding and still be rude. He seems to realize that he stirred up a hornets nest with his shooting. It sounds like he and friends will consider hunting further from houses this year. I hope people will give the young men an opportunity to pursue their sport one more season and see if a bit more sensitivity comes with this season.
I have a master’s degree in Fish and Wildlife Management and worked for several years for the New Mexico Game and Fish Department. In my last job for them, I was the Big Game Project coordinator. Although I did not oversee waterfowl hunting, I did oversee data collection and season reviews for 13 big game species. I am not a hunter myself but I came to see what role hunters have in wildlife conservation.
Local residents concerned about the environmental impact of hunting would do well to ensure their own house is somewhat in order. The author of this email continues:
Truthfully, Eld Inlet residents who care about wildlife conservation should do the following:
- Remove bulkheads from waterfront property
- Make sure septic systems are not leaking
- Keep cats indoors — always
- Pick up dog feces from areas within a hundred yards of any water
- Trade powerboats for sailboats or kayaks that do not use gasoline engines.
I write to you as a liberal. To truly be a liberal, in my opinion, is to tolerate those whose value sets and traditions may be different than my own. Eld Inlet fans should keep an open mind to those who see Puget Sound in different ways. Frankly, those who cherish life on the water in winter tend to be duck hunters and oystermen. Their way should be accommodated when possible.
As more information on County action becomes available, we’ll be sure to transmit that along, either on this blog or on the web site of the Griffin Neighborhood Association.
What are your concerns regarding shooting on Eld Inlet? Do any of the points made, in this article, resonate with you? Click the “COMMENTS” link, and leave your thoughts, for others to read.