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Leyden police chief encourages reporting, rather than new bylaw

  • Cars travel on Frizzell Hill Road surrounded by newly blossoming trees, as seen from Greenfield Road beside the Robertson Memorial Library in Leyden. Recorder file photo

  • Leyden Police Chief Dan Galvis at his home on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE



Recorder Staff
Friday, December 08, 2017

LEYDEN — A call from a Shelburne Control dispatcher Tuesday afternoon has Leyden Police Chief Daniel Galvis thinking about an issue percolating through town.

Galvis said a resident alerted dispatchers that a hunter, Robert Tanner of Rowe, was driving on River Road when he stopped to shoot and kill a deer from the roadside, allegedly within 500 feet of three houses.

According to Galvis, Massachusetts Environmental Police responded and Tanner was cited for discharging a firearm in a public way and discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling. Galvis said Tanner was fined $100 for each charge, and did not get to keep the deer.

The incident occurred just a day after a heated public hearing about a proposed hunting bylaw put forth by residents Barbara Wallace, Susan Howarth and Michele Higgins.

If the bylaw is approved at the Jan. 15 special town meeting, it would prohibit discharging any firearm or weapon unless given written permission by the landowner in the case of private property, or by the Selectboard or other town governmental body in the case of town-owned property. Exceptions would be allowed for law enforcement officers and “the lawful defense of life or property,” the bylaw reads.

All hunters would have to carry two copies of signed permission documents at all times, displaying one on their car’s dashboard and holding another in a pocket.

The Leyden Police Department, Massachusetts Environmental Police, or “any sworn officer who has jurisdiction in the town of Leyden” would be responsible for enforcement, the bylaw reads. The fine would be $200 per violation, and any weapon used in the offense would be confiscated by police.

However, Galvis, who used to hunt in the 1960s and 70s, said he’s on the fence about the proposed bylaw. He thinks an open line of communication is what the town needs to handle hunting related problems.

“If we can enforce the laws that are on the books, we don’t need anymore,” he said. “It’s a matter of people reporting something they see at the time it’s happening. And be vigilant, take down plate numbers.”

Like this latest incident with a hunter.

Galvis said residents frequently tell him about problems they’ve had with hunters on their property days or weeks after they happen.

“They don’t report this stuff,” he said. “If they report, I think the rest will take care of itself.”

After hearing about Tuesday’s incident, Wallace said her opinion about her proposed bylaw wasn’t swayed in a new direction. She believes one reason people may not report hunting related incidents is simply because they’re afraid in the moment and unsure what to do, or they fear reporting might negatively impact their relationships in the community.

As far as Galvis is concerned, bad apples shouldn’t spoil the barrel.

“It’s the few bad hunters, like this, that affect all the good ones, and unfortunately a lot of good hunters are going to be hurt if they pass this bylaw,” he continued. “It’s just one more hurdle they have to cross just to go out and enjoy something they’re entitled to.”

However, Galvis said he also sees the benefits of the bylaw. In particular, he’d like to see hunters put a note on their windshield when they park their vehicles to go hunting, simply stating where they will be hunting.

“It would save me a lot of calls for suspicious vehicles,” he said.