Landowners in hunting areas told to hold phone

Later this month, the rifles in the river bottom will begin to sing. And that’s OK, according to the Mesa County Commission.

Last week, the commission directed staff to add a notification ordinance to the land development code that provides for a “right to hunt.” The notification advises new landowners that their land is near traditional river hunting areas.

“They are going to be noticed that it (waterfowl hunting) is going to happen,”

Commissioner Steve Acquafresca said. “Hunting is a fundamental right.”

The notification, according to Acquafresca, sprang from a conversation the commission had with Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey last year. Hilkey approached the commission with complaints from residents near the Colorado River bottom, between Fruita and Grand Junction. Residents were complaining of the noise of firearms during waterfowl hunting season, which starts later this month.

The calls are not limited to the Sheriff’s Department. The Colorado Division of Wildlife often gets calls from residents about the gunfire.

“We receive dozens of calls from people who are concerned about gunfire on the river,” DOW spokesman Randy Hampton said.

It often happens that new residents take root in the spring near traditional hunting areas, when there is no shooting. Then in the fall, when hunting season begins, the complaints pour in, Hampton said.

“We appreciate the county commissioners looking at anything that alerts people to some of the more traditional rural activities,” Hampton said.

The tradition goes back 100 years or more, Acquafresca said.

“Hunting has gone on for generations,” he said. “The hunters were there for a hundred years. The homes invaded the habitat. ... We want hunting to continue.”


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