Business

Sound off: Hunting Kettle's makes no sense

I read of the Island County Commissioners’ proposal to allow hunting in the Kettles, a proposal that has been offered with no apparent knowledge of the trails or their locations relative to the adjacent highways and houses.  There is a disregard for human safety in this ignorance.

Opening the Kettles to hunting will not create a more equitable sharing of public lands. It will instead create an area of life-threatening danger veiled in good intentions gone awry.

“This is an attempt to give everybody a chance at public property,” Island County Commissioner Mike Shelton said. “This will give everybody a chance to do what they do.” (Whidbey News-Times.)

No, this will not. The make-up of the Kettles is such that no sensible person would go walking, biking, or running on those trails while hunting is going on. It will be a de facto segregation of uses.

“Allowing hunting at Kettles made the most sense to Shelton. It is among the least densely populated areas and is one of the largest open spaces on Whidbey Island,” Public Works Director Bill Oakes said. (Whidbey News-Times.)

Mr. Oakes is using a “planning commission” or “zoning ordinance” definition of “open space” to give a sense of good usability to this harebrained scheme.  As used, “open space” refers to undeveloped, i.e., it is not densely populated nor is it a commercially developed area. This is correct as used, but there is nothing about the Kettles that is open in terms of pastures, meadows, fields, or sparsely vegetated acreage where a person with a gun can see several hundred yards. It is a totally misapplied use of the phrase and very misleading in terms of safety of the public.

So, without knowing if the number of hunters exceeds the number of walkers, runners, bicyclists, and vacationers . . . without considering the increase in noise by allowing hunting . . . without consulting the fish and game folks to find out what wildlife there is in the Kettles the hunters need to kill...let’s consider only the safety aspect:

I run in the Kettles six or seven days a week. I know the name and relative positions of every trail out there. There are several trails from which State Route 20 would be an unseen background danger (potentially fatal) to a rifle shot. There are several trails from which the paved access roads of Fort Ebey State Park would be unseen background danger (potentially fatal) to a rifle shot. There are numerous trails that meander along zigzagging almost parallel to each other, sometime above, sometime below, but always nearby and always unseen background danger (potentially fatal) to gun fire.

There are several houses that are reachable by rifle shots, houses that are not visible to the hunter, hidden by the thickets and woods of the Kettles.

The Kettles is not an open space in terms of visibility. It is densely wooded. It is an area of rhododendron thickets and ferns, blackberries, brambles, and cedars. The trails are mostly twisty, turning, up and down routes with very short visibility.

You cannot put up enough signs to warn of the inherent background dangers surrounding the Kettles when trying to make those areas safe from gunfire.

You cannot put up signs on State Route 20 saying “Caution: Driving through an active hunting area” and remove the dangers (or the liabilities).

From a safety standpoint (the protection of human life) there is no rational justification for allowing hunting in the Kettles.

As suggested by letter writer Mr. Cargill, perhaps a short walk in the Kettles is needed. I will also gladly offer my services as a guide.

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