SOUTHWICK — With two Select Board members saying the feedback they’ve gotten from residents about a proposed hunting bylaw was generally 50-50 for and against, the board agreed to seek public input.

“What do you think … about having a public information session during a Select Board meeting?” board Chair Douglas Moglin said after Police Chief Robert Landis provided his opinion on the proposed bylaw that would require hunters to get the permission of private property owners to use their property.

It was agreed by the members a public information session would take place during one of the board’s meetings in March because, Moglin said, it the plan is to include it as an article on the warrant for May’s Town Meeting.

Landis said he supported the bylaw because as the town has gotten more developed, the amount of land available to safely hunt has gotten smaller. The one downside of the bylaw, he said, was that it would take work from hunters to secure permissions from property owners.

He said, however, that many hunters are already getting prior approval because they hunt in other areas that require getting property owner permission. Tolland, for example, already has an ordinance that requires private property permission.

Landis also discussed how the ordinance might benefit hunters.

“For some [hunters] I’ve talked to, when property owner limits the number [of hunters], it makes for a better experience because they’re not on top of each other,” Landis said.

He also said having the ordinance on the books would also be helpful for the police. The proposal should require each hunter to sign an agreement with the landowner, with copies to be kept by the landowner, in the hunter’s vehicle, and on file with the Police Department.

“That way we would know where they are,” Landis said, referring to the hunters.

Board member Jason Perron said the responses he’d gotten from residents about the proposal was about half for, half against.

“I can see both sides of the coin,” Perron said during the Feb. 13 meeting.

During the meeting, Moglin said, like Perron, he had gotten feedback from residents that was about 50-50, but he has yet to publicly announce whether he supports it.

Perron did say there might be complications when a hunter must cross into private property to retrieve, for example, a deer that had run across a property line after being shot but before succumbing to its wound.

Landis added that occasionally Massachusetts hunters will enter Connecticut, where they aren’t licensed, to retrieve a mortally wounded animal. That was another issue, the board agreed, needed to be discussed as it moves forward on the proposal.

In a letter Landis sent to the board earlier in February, he also noted that state law protects private landowners from liability if someone is injured while on their property, without limitation. The law applies to property owners who charge a fee for the land’s use.

The issue was raised last year by a woman who sent a letter to the Select Board describing a situation during last year’s hunting season when she found a deer stand on the property that she oversees.

She said she became aware that hunters were using the property at the end of 2022 when she got a complaint from a neighbor about gunshots during a weekend when families were at home.

In her letter, she described a series of incidents involving her and the hunter who had installed the stand, which included legal actions in small claims court filed by her and the hunter.

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