Neighbors Petition Town to Ban Landowner from Hunting Narrow Property

   01.25.16

What would you do if your neighbors wanted to ban you from hunting on your own land? A landowner in Lancaster, New York found himself the target of a newly proposed town law that would forbid him from hunting on his property, and he showed up to a recent town hall meeting to defend himself.

“I don’t dictate to the people how they use their yards,” Sean Petronsky told The Buffalo News. “I haven’t broken any laws. They’re definitely trying to take away my right to hunt on my land.”

Petronsky said he bought the land in 2008 and has been hunting deer there since 2014. Sitting in a treestand with his longbow about 30 feet up, he argues that he poses no danger to the townspeople. However, concerned residents point out that the strip of land Petronsky hunts on is 50 feet wide and about 1,000 feet long. Homes border three sides of the densely-wooded property, but Petronsky said that a significant buffer exists between his hunting ground and nearby yards. The land was originally meant to be a road separating houses nearby.

Previously, regulations from the state Department of Environmental Conservation prohibited hunting with longbows within 500 feet of residences, but since that rule was recently changed to just 150 feet, Petronsky said he is well within the law to use a longbow. Residents are now asking the Town Board to pass a new local law to make it illegal to fire a weapon within 500 feet of a residence.

“I don’t think anyone with small kids or animals, or anyone who likes to use their backyard, would want somebody back there with either a longbow, crossbow, firearm, or any type of weapon,” Heather Johnson, who lives on the street bordering Petronksy’s property, told WIVB.

City leaders said they are conflicted on the issue, but clarified that the proposed law is not meant to end hunting in the town.

“Nobody wants to end hunting in the Town of Lancaster, but this one instance is putting us in a position where we have to do something,” Councilman John Abraham Jr. explained.

“It’s well within his rights to hunt on it,” added Town Board member Matthew Walter.

There is also some debate between hunters regarding whether it is ethical—or safe—for Petronsky to take deer on the narrow property. Some bring up the possibility that arrowed deer may end up in nearby yards or on the street, while others question the safety of shooting so close to homes. Many other hunters support Petronsky and say that when shooting downward, there should be little danger to nearby residents. Petronsky himself said he will continue to fight any laws that prohibit him from hunting on his property.

What do you think? Is Petronsky in the right or do the townspeople have a valid point? Let us know in the comments.

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