Council to review hunting bill’s wording

A new bill would apply to newly annexed land.
Monday, November 22, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:03 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

During the City Council’s work session on Nov. 29, it will consider language for a bill that would allow firearms hunting on newly annexed land.

At its regular meeting on Nov. 15, the council received a report from city staff detailing what such a bill might look like. The proposal under review would restrict hunting to tracts 20 acres or larger. The draft contains provisions that would forbid firing across streets or at people, buildings, recreational areas or domestic animals.

Hunters also would be unable to fire guns within 300 feet of any building or park that lies outside the tract they’re hunting on.

An earlier version of the ordinance, which was drafted last November, included provisions allowing the use of fireworks on newly annexed property.

While working on the new draft, the city’s Law Department considered similar ordinances in cities both inside and outside Missouri.

Inside Missouri, the staff examined ordinances in Jefferson City, Wildwood and Liberty. Outside the state, it looked at Emporia, Kan.; Enid, Okla.; Waterloo, Iowa; and West Des Moines, Iowa.

Jefferson City allows firearms hunting on tracts of at least 10 acres that are zoned for rural or conservation use, and it forbids firing a gun within 300 feet of inhabited structures. Jefferson City attorney Nathan Nickolaus said the bill was passed as an accommodation for residents when the city annexed the Algoa area, which is near the new prison.

Capt. Michael Smith, spokesman for the Jefferson City Police Department, said that since the beginning of hunting season, the department had prepared itself to take complaints about hunting, but as of Friday, it had received none.

Wildwood, a community of around 32,000 in western St. Louis County, approved a bill in 2001 that city attorney Dan Vogel said was relatively noncontroversial.

At 67 square miles, Wildwood is the third-largest city in Missouri and has 11 square miles of parks. Almost all the land east of Missouri 109 is divided into small, urban plats, and land west of the highway is predominately rural.

In addition to the city’s mix of rural and urban land, large deer populations in St. Louis County created a considerable animal health problem, Vogel said. As the deer population grew, the deer’s health deteriorated. The conservation commission or state officials provide information regarding the health of the animal population.

Wildwood officials then decided to allow hunting with most firearms west of Missouri109 and hunting with bows and muzzle-loaders east of the highway. The bill forbid certain kinds of guns and firing within 450 feet of buildings not owned by the hunter or without permission of the owner.

Vogel said he thinks no significant complaints about hunters have been made since the ordinance took effect.

The ordinance in Waterloo, Iowa, allows hunting only on agriculturally zoned land of more than 40 acres. It prohibits shooting within 200 feet of a building, livestock or people.

Columbia resident Birgit Scherer-Wiedmeyer was the only person to address the City Council about the issue Nov. 15.

“My breakfast was interrupted by gunshots,” she told the council.

She said she would oppose any ordinance that would allow hunting in the city, citing the large number of children who live in her neighborhood near Columbia’s western boundary.

Some residents outside Columbia’s southern limit were amenable to annexation but felt there were more pressing issues besides hunting.

Anthony Davis, whose land borders the city, said he would be more interested in allowing his land to be annexed if the city starts doing a better job of maintaining roads and infrastructure.

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