The recent Sunday Star included an article on hunting that contained statements that I feel are misleading or incorrect. One statement I disagree with is that “hunting accidents were common.” I am now retired but spent over 35 years as a wildlife biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. On numerous occasions I reviewed the Maryland hunting accident statistics compiled by the Natural Resources Police. While one accident can be seen as too many, I found there to be surprisingly few accidents recorded (12-15 per year) in Maryland. Most of these were self-inflicted, often involving the improper use of treestands. Cases where one hunter shot another hunter were thankfully very uncommon and I never saw a report in our state where a hunter injured someone not engaged in hunting. In fact, the National Safety Council reports that hunting is much safer than many other sports, including biking and golfing. Calling hunting accidents ‘common,’ while subjective, is very misleading.
To state “Most of the time, [turkey hunters] shoot at something they can’t even see” is preposterous. Positively identifying your target is one of the key principles taught in Hunter Safety and Education classes for over 40 years. Since 1977, any new hunter buying a license in Maryland has had to pass a Hunter Safety and Education class. This mandatory education has greatly reduced hunting accidents and is one of the main reasons hunting is so safe today.
The article totally misconstrued what falconry is all about. A falconry permit does NOT allow a person to shoot falcons. It allows a person who has undergone testing and an extensive apprenticeship to use falcons, hawks, and occasionally other birds of prey to hunt WITH these birds. Falconers treat their birds with utmost care, often releasing them back to the wild after ‘owning’ them for a few years. Shooting a falcon or other bird of prey is illegal.
Your article correctly noted that Sunday hunting has been allowed in various forms and locations in Maryland for over 15 years. Over this time Sunday hunting has been safe and effective, just as professional wildlife biologists expected it to be.
To support or oppose more Sunday hunting on the Shore is a personal decision each person has the right to make. However, it is important to base these decisions on the best information available.