Mallards, pintails, goldeneyes, scoters, mergansers, even geese — the constituents who will benefit the most — made no appearance at an announcement that might save some of their lives.
That’s because waterfowl will no longer be targets for hunters on the shores or marshes of the Quinnipiac River between the southern tip of the New Haven Land Trust’s Fargeorge Preserve at the mouth of Hemingway Creek to Lombard Street to the I-91 overpass.
That news emerged at a press conference convened Thursday morning at the Clifton Street boat launch, where State Senate President Marty Looney announced a state-mandated one-year moratorium on duck hunting in that area. State environmental Commissioner Robert Klee ordered the moratorium at the request of Police Chief Anthony Campbell and said his department will use the year to investigate concerns about neighborhood safety. Anyone found hunting there risks a misdemeanor arrest.
The land borders an already prohibited area adjacent to it leading south down to the mouth of the harbor. That was created in 2009 after neighbors of the growing number of riverine condos in the Fair Haven area complained of gunfire in the increasingly dense area.
Led by local activists Ed Schwartz and Andrea Dobras, among others, they formed a campaign to extend the prohibited area.
They gathered signatures and made their case at community management team meetings. They pressed State Sen. Looney and State Rep. Al Paolillo Jr. about gunfire in the densely inhabited areas near the river. They pointed out that a stray bullet might inadvertently strike a walker, birder, or the growing number of kids visiting the preserve.
Police Chief Anthony Campbell, who wrote a letter of support based on neighbors concerns and the use of public safety resources, said the one-year moratorium will enable us to “hear both sides and find a path forward.”
However to activists and to Looney that path clearly leads to a bill in the next legislative session that will frame a permanent prohibition.
“Hunting is inappropriate in this area,” Looney said. “It’s become a public safety concern when people hear shots and don’t report it because they think it’s hunters.”
“Hunting within the city limits doesn’t make sense,” said Quinnipiac Avenue resident Ian Christmann. “People aren’t against hunting. A quarter mile up the river the marsh is full of ducks,” he said.
Campbell said his public safety argument to DEEP traced how in the beginning people call in shots fired, but when it turns out to be hunters, people stop calling in, and that’s a problem.
“I go to management team meetings,” he said, and there he hears Fair Haveners in the area say, “‘I hear shooting and I’m not reporting it, it’s hunters. We don’t want to hear that, and then find a body,” he added.
“It’s a good start,” said Schwartz, “but it’s not finished.”
“I’m happy we’re going to have a winter of peace,” said Dobras.
And presumably the local ducks will be happy as well.
No waterfowl were available for interviews.