Beach, marshland area residents concerned over gun shots
By Tara Vocino
Following longtime concern about gun shots heard by marshland area residents, Revere’s State Representative is seeking to regulate duck hunting in residential areas with heavy foot and vehicular traffic along Revere Beach and in surrounding areas.
Heightening over the weekend, State Rep. RoseLee Vincent, who lives along the beach, has received numerous calls from her neighbors and constituents – those who not only heard gunshots but observed the hunters in boats outside the windows of their homes. She was quick to note that hunters have every right to hunt, but it is due to the close proximity to the residential neighborhoods that she seeks to file a Home Rule Petition and look into exploring other options for regulation.
“When you live in a city with more than 55,000 people in a less than 7 square mile radius, it doesn’t make sense that people sitting in their living room, driving by, or running along the shore can not only hear but see hunters shooting and killing ducks,” Vincent said Monday afternoon.
Vincent represents approximately 40,000 of those people – most of whom live in Revere and neighboring Saugus. Vincent explained that there has been an issue with people hunting ducks in the waters off of Revere, which are in extremely close proximity to not only dwellings (homes, apartments, condos), but also in close proximity to vehicles traversing Revere Beach Boulevard and Route 107, joggers on America’s First Public Beach and even windsurfers in the ocean.
Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Chief of Information & Education Marion Larson said Monday night in a telephone interview with The Advocate that hunting must occur 150 feet from a road or 500 feet from a house or building. According to Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) regulations, in Revere hunters may not hunt on DCR land, except in the intertidal zone. This has to do with a colonial ordinance that allows for fishing, fowling (the old-fashioned word for waterfowl hunting) and navigation on intertidal land, according to Larson.
However, Vincent argues that the colonial ordinance was written when Revere had a much smaller population and was likely more rural.
“Though the hunting season is only a few months out of the year, this really is a public safety and quality of life issue for my constituents,” Vincent said. “My office has been receiving many calls and emails from frantic neighbors asking for help.”
Vincent went on to say that it is absolutely maddening that people can be having coffee on the beach while gunshots are going off just a few hundred feet away. She understands and respects hunters’ rights; however, a distinction for appropriate location in 2019 has to be made between open, rural areas and cities.
Her predecessor State Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein (D-Revere), filed legislation to allow duck shooting 1,000 feet from properties, but it only went into committee study.
Vincent went on to say that residents have been awoken from dawn to dusk, which is when duck hunting is allowed, and she identified it not as an animal rights issue, but as a human and safety problem.
Larson said that hunting regulations are designed by wildlife professionals in state fish and wildlife agencies to ensure that there are abundant and healthy populations for all people, including wildlife watchers and photographers and hunters, to enjoy now and into the future; to ensure safety of hunters and other outdoor users; and to ensure hunters are following ethical hunting practices, or sporting or “fair chase” methods.
“Hunters understand that it’s a big deal to take an animal’s life away, but hunters are proud of their success,” Larson said. “It’s not easy to target these ducks as they are moving in the air.”
Vincent said that duck hunting is allowed from November to the end of January off the shore and in the marsh.
Marion said that Tuesday night there are people who are hunting guides offering a service to duck hunters where they will be taken to duck hunting areas (for a fee). In some states, there is a requirement that those hunting (or fishing) guides must have a guide license. However, in Massachusetts, there is no requirement to be licensed as a hunting or fishing guide. Maine and New Hampshire require guides to have a guide license.
Vincent estimated that thousands of residents in Point of Pines and the Carey Circle to Eliot Circle area are affected by the duck shooting. “This isn’t rural New Hampshire,” Vincent said. “It’s an urban area and a major city. Sit on the wall and watch the number of cars that drive by.”
According to Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Chief of Information & Education Marion Larson, below are pertinent details for the Revere area, which is considered part of the Coastal Zone:
Canada goose season in the Coastal Zone can be hunted through Jan. 10. The season is closed for a few days and then reopens for what is called the Late Canada goose season on Jan. 15 and it will go through Feb. 15. This particular so-called Late Season targets the abundant numbers of non-migrating Canada geese that live year-round in Massachusetts. The migrating Canada geese from Canada for the most part will have passed through the Coastal Zone in the Revere area by mid-January. For more information, visit https://www.mass.gov/service-details/learn-about-canada-geese.
Brant season on the Coastal Zone goes from Nov. 19, 2018–Jan. 26, 2019. Brant are geese which look similar to Canada geese but are smaller and don’t have a big white cheek patch on their black head; instead they have a few flecks of white on their black neck.
There is a Duck season that ends on Jan. 10. Ducks that can be hunted during this time period include mallard, black duck, scaup, several species of mergansers, canvasbacks, redheads and northern pintail.
Sea duck season: These include eiders, scoters and long-tailed ducks. That season goes from Nov. 19, 2018, to Jan. 26, 2019. These birds migrate from the north to Massachusetts in the winter, and then fly back to Canada to nest in the summer months. There are some eiders that nest in the Boston Harbor Islands and environs. Generally, they spend their time on the ocean, not in fresh water lakes or ponds in Massachusetts.