Start of dove season brings complaints
Stallings gun owners may soon need to travel out of town to hunt. During their Monday, Sept. 12 meeting, the council asked staff to research how neighboring towns dealt with hunting, to discuss either tightening current restrictions or possibly banning the sport.
“Every year, as soon as people start shooting in town, people start wondering why in the world we allow that,” Stallings Mayor Lynda Paxton said. “It’s a safety concern. We’ve become a very urbanized city even though we’re still a small town.”
The day after dove hunting season opened this year, her phone started ringing, Paxton said. Residents complained about the noise, not expecting to hear gunshots near their property.
“This year, I did get calls from citizens who said there were dead birds falling in their yard,” Paxton said. “One resident said there was damage (from birdshot) to the siding on their house.”
Under the current town ordinance, residents can hunt or target shoot, as long as it’s not within 500 feet of a home, school, church, building, park or public gathering place. That includes both pellet and BB guns, which are covered under the ordinance. The penalty for violating the ordinance is either a $100 fine or 20 days in jail So far, no one has violated that ordinance, according to local law enforcement.
Stallings Police Chief Michael Dummett said there had been seven calls for service in relation to hunting since the season opened. The first two were from the same person within the span of two hours, after hearing gunshots near Next Level Church. Officers located where the shots came from, Dummett said, and found the hunter was on private land, well within the requirements of the ordinance.
“He was well within the guidelines,” Dummett said. “We’ve had several calls like that.”
Another call came from the Eaglecrest subdivision, where the officer found a man hunting lawfully on private property.
“I think when a lot of people hear gunshots, it’s alarming,” Dummett said, adding that it might help calm nerves if the town informed residents when hunting season starts. “If you’re not a hunter, you don’t keep up with this stuff,” Dummett said. “A lot of things can be corrected, just with information.”
As to the report of birdshot damaging a home, Dummett said the officer who responded to the case couldn’t find any evidence.
Neighboring towns in Union County vary in how they approach a firearms or hunting ordinance. In Weddington, residents can’t fire any weapons within 150 feet of a building. Hunters can’t shoot birds in Indian Trail, as the town was designated a bird sanctuary. Marshville, Monroe, Wesley Chapel and Wingate prohibit the discharge of guns within their town limits.
Stallings town council members said they weren’t ready to make a decision on the subject without collecting more information.
“I’d like to hear from the property owners,” council member Reed Esarove said. “They might want to hunt their land. They should have the opportunity to discuss this.”
The council asked staff to check the ordinances of Matthews, Mint Hill and Indian Trail and give a presentation at the next meeting, Sept. 26. All property owners with a parcel of 10 acres or more will get a notice that a change to the firearms ordinance will be discussed, in case they want to come and speak.