At the December 11 meeting of the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen's, State Rep. Gailanne Cariddi of the First Berkshire District showed up to listen to the concerns of local outdoor sportsmen. She is on the Environmental, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee.
Phil Hiser of Lee asked if anything can be done to speed up the process of firearms permits and renewals. He mentioned that he lives in a town where they are talking as long as 5 months for a permit. The letter of the law says they have 40 days to issue or deny it. Wayne McLain, of Williamstown, checked with reliable state sources and found out the average wait is 10 weeks.
BCLS President Mark Jester said that the Attorney General should come out to the Berkshires to explain why it takes so long for licenses to be issued or reissued.
According to Jester, who quoted GOAL figures, there are instances statewide where it takes 6 months to a year to get licenses renewed. He stated that the Attorney General's office was presented with 1,000 examples of licenses for lawful gun owners not having them renewed in a timely manner. On behalf of the sportsmen of Berkshire County he asked Representative Cariddi to look into it.
She stated that she has signed onto a bill that would extend the license period (if your license expired) for 180 days instead of the current 90 days.
Robert McCarthy of Williamstown commented that when people are picked up with gun violations they should get at least one year in jail. He said that the judicial system harasses the legal gun owners who are just trying to get their licenses renewed so they can go hunting or target shooting, while armed criminals are running around in our streets. Whoever is responsible, the DA's office or the judges, should adhere to the strictest letter of the law.
Jester mentioned another issue, the legalization of crossbows. He commented that 43 or 44 states have passed some form of crossbow legislation.
"We are trying to find ways to keep the hunter in the woods and this is one more tool to provide that ability", he said.
Massachusetts law states, "Crossbows may be used only by persons who are permanently disabled in such a manner that the affliction prevents the person from using conventional archery equipment. The person must submit to MassWildlife a statement to this effect from a licensed physician and they will then be issued a free lifetime crossbow permit."
Michael Kruszyna, of Cheshire, commented that he had a rotator cuff operation during the year and his shoulder is still healing. He filled out an application for a crossbow permit, but the doctor wouldn't sign it because his was not a permanent injury. He lost the whole archery hunting season this year because of it. .
There were other concerns expressed which will be covered in next week's column.
The way things are going this winter, we may be out ice fishing shortly. Paula and Tom at the Onota Boat Livery are willing to assimilate the various ice fishing derby information. Here's hoping the organizers of the derbies get together early to coordinate their schedules so that there aren't two or three going on at the same date, thus drawing from one another.
We need them all to be successful so that they can support the many worthy causes.
Tad Ames, President of the Berkshire Natural Resources Council reported that last week the Commonwealth of Massachusetts awarded a grant of $35,632 to cover half the cost of buying and conserving 65 acres on the Hoosac Range. BNRC needs to raise the other half of the money by Dec. 31 so that they can close the deal in January. If you donate $100 or so, the property could remain open to walkers, wildlife and everyone who lives, works and visits there.
As Tad so eloquently put it, our donations guarantee that "the sun will rise and set over the hills where nature rules."
Having a problem coming up with a gift for that outdoor enthusiast? MassWildlife has a few suggestions: How about a 2-year subscription to Massachusetts Wildlife magazine ($10), eight full-color issues of the Commonwealth's best wildlife publication. The magazine is packed with award-winning articles and photos on the environment, conservation, fishing, hunting, natural history and just about everything relating to the outdoors in Massachusetts. Or how about their other publications: Critters of Massachusetts, Field Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies, Field Guide to the Animals of Vernal Pools, or the Field Guide to the Reptiles of Massachusetts.
The Introduction to the Threatened Turtles of Massachusetts ($5), is a video available from the DFW's Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. Contact the DFW Western Regional Headquarters in Dalton to see how to purchase them.
Trout Unlimited has an Angler's Guide to Trout Fishing in Massachusetts ($20). The only local place where you can get one before this Christmas is Matt Tannenbaum's Bookstore in Lenox.
As of Dec. 18, MassWildlife has still not disclosed how our deer hunters have done so far this year. Even figures from the archery season, which ended on November 30 have not been released. Such figures cannot be obtained from our DFW district offices because they don't have the figures either. They don't get to see a lot of the deer taken by archers or primitive arms hunters because most of them are now being checked in on-line.
About all I could find out about the shotgun deer season is that the opening day and first week figures were down but the second week figures were better. So much for the highly touted automated check-in system, eh?
We will probably find out these figures next month, when our interests have shifted to ice fishing.
Phone/fax: (413) 637-1818