Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Bow hunting in town: Legal but is it safe?


November 3, 2011

Police chief Gary Lowe said he wouldn’t seek changes in borough laws that effectively prohibit hunters from shooting big game with a rifle in the Haines townsite but allow such hunting with a bow.

Some residents this fall raised questions about the laws after bow hunters went after a moose that survived a shooting at the golf course during the annual subsistence hunt. The bow hunters were on property alongside Haines Highway inside the townsite.

Borough law prohibits discharging a firearm in the townsite, but doesn’t address bow hunting.

Lowe said bow hunters who come too close to populated areas of the townsite could be charged with reckless behavior or endangerment of others.

"That it’s legal doesn’t mean I’d take my bow down to the high school parking lot. Every moose season we get a couple inquiries about shooting a bow within the townsite. There are areas of the townsite that are fairly uninhabited, like the Lilly Lake area. Would it be safe to shoot a bow in that particular area? I think it would be. The opposite would be the playground at Dusty Trails, where you’re endangering more than the moose."

Dean Risley, chair of the Upper Lynn Canal Advisory Committee, said he didn’t expect his group to take up the issue. He said he hoped hunters would be guided by common sense.

Highway resident Craig Loomis said he’d like to see rifle hunting allowed in his neighborhood at 2.5 Mile Haines Highway, or bow hunting prohibited. He said rifle hunting was as safe, and more humane, than bow hunting.

"The moose is just as dead whether you shoot them with a gun or a bow. I’d just as soon see it dead where it stands rather than see it run off for a half a mile," Loomis said.

Although the townsite boundaries changed about a decade ago to prohibit firing a gun in his neighborhood, nothing has changed to make that particularly unsafe, Loomis said.

"I don’t see what the difference is. It all boils down to the city limits thing. It’s big brother in our business again," he said.

Police chief Lowe said he could "go either way" on the question of prohibiting bow hunting or keeping current laws. "As long as it’s safe and there’s a low likelihood anyone’s going to get hurt," he said.


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