Is the "People's Republic of Takoma Park" becoming Ted Nugent country? A city resolution that would have protested changes to loosen deer bow hunting regulations at the state and Montgomery County levels failed to pass at the January 27 city council meeting.
The possibility that licensed hunters could soon be pursuing deer within 50 yards of occupied buildings in the city left some councilmembers aghast. “I can see no good reason, in a highly-populated urban area such as we live in, for hunting with deadly weapons in such close proximity,” Councilmember Terry Seamens said. “I have great concern with young people playing in the backyard, putting their life in jeopardy,” Seamens (Ward 4) added, calling the rules change "ridiculous. "It makes absolutely no sense,” Councilmember Fred Schultz (Ward 6) concurred, and expressed concern that the new rules would encourage more residents to take up bow hunting within the city.
Ward 2 Councilmember Tim Male suggested such concerns were overblown. Male said he would oppose the city resolution, arguing there is “just not a lot of evidence” of suburban bow hunting causing serious or fatal injury to bystanders. In contrast, Male said that the over 3000 car accidents blamed on deer each year in the state of Maryland have proven to cause injury and death to people. Male also noted that densely-developed New Jersey recently adopted a statewide 50-yard bow hunting regulation. Ward 1 Councilmember Seth Grimes indicated that he, too, would oppose the city resolution.
Maryland's current law allows bow hunting within 150 yards of an occupied dwelling. “I don’t know of any place in Takoma Park city where 150 yards” would be available to comply with the current law, Seamens said. That makes deer hunting within city limits essentially impossible, which has led hunters and citizens concerned about the auto accidents and lyme disease that deer are blamed for to endorse the regulatory change to 50 yards.
Mayor Bruce Williams said he opposed the change, and would support the city resolution, to “make it clear we don’t think it’s appropriate here.”
Minutes later, the resolution failed, meaning the city will fall under the new hunting rules, if and when they are passed as expected. The measure's demise is in line with growing sentiment across the region that deer overpopulation should be addressed through managed hunts. But the failure is notable in a city associated with peace and a strong stance against weapons. Is Takoma Park changing (slightly), or are practical concerns simply overriding idealism?