September 20, 2020

Anti-Hunting Groups May Get Backfire On Land Use Liability Issues

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The anti-hunting crowds will promote their personal agenda to end the sport of hunting in any fashion they see fit – sometimes illegally. Their tactics can range from the direct assault on hunting by way of referendums to indirect or “back door” initiatives that can weaken the hunting base in hopes to ultimately pare it down to small enough numbers that they can more easily fight.

Several ways these groups work to “back door” us is by doing things like, trying to raise the minimum age someone can hunt, decrease the number of days, working to get access to lands reduced and an entire myriad of things, some so discreet that we fail to see what they are doing.

According to an editorial in PennLive.com, Pennsylvania recently saw a jury in Lehigh County find a landowner partially liable for allowing a hunter on his land. The hunter, through a misguided shot, wounded a pregnant woman about a half-mile away.

In September, a Lehigh County jury found the owner of an orchard 10 percent liable when a hunter on his property fired a shot that struck and critically wounded a pregnant woman who was sitting in her driveway half a mile away. The landowner could become responsible for the entire award — the amount of which is to be determined by a second jury — should the hunter be unable to pay.

When our society begins to look at things such as this from this perspective, we can begin to realize that our thinking is quite skewed. Don’t get me wrong. Negligence is one thing. Being responsible for someone else’s actions is pressing the envelope too far.

This perception is nothing new. Automobile accidents are viewed in this manner now on a regular basis. What once used to be a simple matter of determining who was at fault, has now evolved into at what percentage are all parties involved responsible.

I have no way of knowing whether anyone on the jury, the lawyers, the judge, the plaintiff or defendent are pro or anti hunting. What is happening in our court systems and with state and federal lawmakers is legislation and rulings are being made based on personal agendas toward hunting. People can deny it all they want but it happens. I’m not naiive enough to think that only anti-hunters do this. Everyone is influenced by personal beliefs. The sad part about this is innocent people are finding they have to protect themselves more and more from the foolishness of the courts.

If we look more closely at the case in Pennsylvania, a landowner who graciously allows a hunter to hunt his orchard, gets punished for doing so. At a time when land access is shrinking, the last thing hunters need are rulings like this one that will send a domino effect throughout the state of Pennsylvania and beyond, of landowners posting their properties. Why would anyone agree to allow anyone on their land? Are we now going to be forced to keep visitors away out of fear if something happens to them, like being struck by lightening or a flat tire on their car, the homeowner is going to have to pay a percentage? Ridiculous.

This is an example of a back door tactic anti-hunters will use in order to shut down more land. Their thinking is such that the less land there is to hunt on, the fewer people will be interested in hunting. The end result will ultimately be the death of hunting, at least as we know it.

But the antis might be beating themselves with this kind of mindset. With their agendas so firmly entrenched in stopping the hunters, they are stopping all recreationist. A landowner being held responsible, at least to some degree, not only has to say no to hunters but will also be forced to say no to hikers, bikers, paddlers, bird watchers, you name it, the landowner can’t take the risk. Is this the sacrifice anti-hunting groups are willing to pay to promote their lopsided agendas?

You can call me paranoid if you wish and perhaps some of my thinking is tainted some by the past events of these groups but unless we are willing to talk about this and bring it to the forefront, how will we know what the ultimate goals are for these groups?

States need to get to work to stop this evolution before it’s too late. Imagine what will happen once all land is closed to everybody. Sometimes I wonder if people use their heads for anything other than dreaming up new ways to file lawsuits.

Tom Remington

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