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Hunting in the Punkhorn Parklands Compromise Proposal

There is a proposed plan for a bow and arrow only hunt during a three-week period in December, commencing on the first Monday and ending on the third Saturday. In accordance with Massachusetts hunting laws, hunters must be duly licensed and have completed a 12-16 hour long Basic Hunter Education Safety Course.

The 865 acre, Punkhorn Parklands, has been closed to hunting for over 30 years due to public misconceptions about hunting and concerns about public safety. Research shows that regulated hunting, particularly archery hunting, is a safe activity for all outdoor recreators, hunting and non-hunting alike. In Massachusetts, there are no recorded injuries to non-hunters due to archery hunting. Archery deer hunters typically hunt from elevated tree stands where visibility is enhanced and shooting distance is extremely limited. Archery deer hunters most often hunt independently, meaning they do not pursue deer in large parties and do not participate in “deer drives”.

The MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife conducted surveys in the Punkhorn Parklands in 2020 and found deer densities to be at least double the management goal of 12-18 deer per square mile. Deer overabundance results in ecological damage that negatively impacts many other species including native plants, pollinators, threatened and endangered species, and even common and abundant species. Due to high reproductive rates and high fawn survival, deer abundance will continue to rise if a hunting plan is not implemented.

Hunting in Brewster is already extremely limited. The only public properties open in town for hunting are the Water Department land on Freemans Way and Mother’s Bog. These areas are only open for archery and black powder hunting. Hunters and non-hunters have safely recreated on these properties concurrently for years. This same peaceful coexistence can extend to the Punkhorn Parklands property, particularly for a short 18-day period. The proposal suggests that the southern portion of Punkhorn Parklands, where there are no marked hiking trails, be open to limited archery hunting.

The Town of Brewster has many places for non-hunters to enjoy the outdoors. With the addition of the Sea Camps land and the Dog Park, this gives Brewster residents two additional properties to utilize. Responsible and respectful hunters should be permitted to use town properties just as other recreators are allowed to.

 

VOTE NO ON ARTICLE 17 – FULL BAN

VOTE YES ON ARTICLE 18 – 3 WEEKS ARCHERY


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INTOLERANT CITIZENS PETITION – PUNKHORN HUNTING BAN

VOTE NO on ARTICLE #17 - FULL BAN: To see if the Town will vote to amend the Town’s General Bylaw by adding a new Chapter 98 – Hunting in the Punkhorn Parklands as follows:

§98-1  No person shall discharge any gun, including paint ball guns, fowling piece, pistol, or firearm or release an arrow from a bow or hunt or trap or poison or set fire to any material known as fireworks, or other combustible matter, on any and all Town-owned parcels in southwest Brewster commonly referred to as the Punkhorn Parklands; provided, however, this section shall not apply to any person abating nuisance or in the exercise of duty required by law, or to take any other action relative thereto.

(Citizen's Petition)                                                                              (Majority Vote Required)

COMMENT

The parcels of land commonly referred to as the Punkhorn Parklands constitute a major conservation area, purchased by the Town to protect it from development and to preserve its varied environment. Public use of the Punkhorn has increased significantly over the years, with an even greater increase occurring during the past couple of years of social distancing necessitated by the COVID pandemic. Every year, more and more hikers, dog walkers, cyclists, horseback riders, bird watchers, and nature lovers make use of the Punkhorn trails and lands, both residents and visitors alike.

At the May 1989 Annual Election, Brewster voters passed a non-binding public advisory to express the opinion that all hunting and use of firearms, bows and arrows, air guns and pellet guns should be prohibited in the Town-owned Punkhorn Parkland.  At the May 15, 2021 Special & Annual Town Meeting, voters passed what we thought was a bylaw banning hunting in the Punkhorn.  The Attorney General's Office approved it, but Town counsel ruled that the language did not conform to the standards for a bylaw, so the petition was "merely advisory".  This time, Town counsel supplied the appropriate language to make this a binding bylaw.  We once again urge you to vote to make this ban official to protect the safety of all who use the Punkhorn Parklands.

 

Select Board:

Yes 3, No 2, Abs 0

Finance Committee:

Yes 2, No 5, Abs 0


VOTE TO SAVE PUNKHORN CONSERVATION EFFORTS

CITIZENS PETITION – PUNKHORN LIMITED HUNTING SEASON (ARCHERY PROVISION)

VOTE YES on ARTICLE #18 - ARCHERY ONLY: To see if the Town will vote to amend the Town’s General Bylaw by Adding a new Chapter 98 – Hunting in the Punkhorn Parklands as follows:

§98-1  No person shall discharge any gun, including paint ball guns, fowling piece, pistol, or firearm or release an arrow from a bow or hunt or trap or poison or set fire to any material known as fireworks, or other combustible matter, within the Town-owned land known as the Punkhorn Parklands; provided, however, this section shall not apply to any person abating nuisance or in the exercise of duty required by law: provided further that bow hunting only shall only be permitted during a three-week period beginning on the first Monday in December of each year, or to take any other action relative thereto.

(Citizen's Petition)                                                                              (Majority Vote Required)

COMMENT

This petition seeks to allow hunting on Town land in the Punkhorn by bow and arrow only during a three-week period in December, commencing on the first Monday and ending on the third Saturday, in accordance with all Massachusetts hunting laws.  The Punkhorn covers an area of 865 acres and has been closed to hunting for over 30 years. Research data reveals that hunting is safe to the public and hunting with a bow and arrow is even safer due to the lower number of hunters, who hunt from tree stands not in large groups, and do not use methods like “driving” deer.

Hunting options are extremely limited in Brewster. The only area in town for general hunting is the Water Department land on Freemans Way and Mothers Bog for archery and black powder. Hunters and non-hunters have co-existed in these areas of the Town for years; one would believe that they would be able to so for 18 days of archery hunting in the Punkhorn.

 

The Town of Brewster has many places to enjoy the outdoors and the recent additions of the Sea Camps land and Dog Park gives Brewster residents two more options. As these options grow for Brewster taxpayers, hunting should also be an option. The Punkhorn should be open to all taxpayers for all recreational activities. It is unfair to segregate groups of people to certain areas because we may not agree on the outdoor activity.

 

Select Board:

Yes 2, No 3, Abs 0

Finance Committee:

Yes 2, No 5, Abs 0

 

 

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