Advertisement
  1. Hernando

Duck hunters turned canals in Spring Hill into war zones, residents said. Will the state stop it?

LUIS SANTANA | Times Homeowner Chris Anger looks at the dozens of ducks in the canal behind his home on March 31 in Spring Hill. Hunters began hunting the black bellied whistling ducks last duck hunting season and wants the hunters to stop shooting the ducks near the surrounding homes.
Published Apr. 11

SPRING HILL — All through duck-hunting season, shotgun blasts rattled the people living along canals that squiggle out from Hunters Lake. Residents complained in Hernando County Commission meetings about the distress that hunters wrought in pursuit of the ducks. After an unusually rainy season, the ducks were drawn into the canals rather than the lake basin, and the county's removal of large floating islands of vegetation called tussocks made it easier for hunters to navigate the lake and its canals.

They described shots that rang out 100 feet from their homes or closer, misses that cracked windows and ripped through pool screens. Parents feared letting their children play outside. The noises unsettled veterans and service dogs. In a January meeting, one man described constant gunfire that "sounds more like a reenactment of the Battle for Fallujah."

County commissioners voted unanimously last month to ask the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to make the 24 canals off Hunters Lake a bird sanctuary. The designation would prohibit hunters from pursuing duck on the canals.

The Conservation Commission likely will take action on the request at a meeting in July or January, according to the resolution.

Christopher Anger, a canal-side resident who's spoken out against the hunting, said it was exactly the step he wanted to see.

"We're not against hunters, we're not against guns," he said. "It's just the common sense we've got to legislate."

The resolution pleasantly surprised Anger, who said he feared nothing would come of residents' pleas for hunting to stop. The county commission lacks the state's authority to regulate hunting or firearms, according to county attorney Garth Coller.

More than 5,000 people live within a half-mile of Hunters Lake, according to a letter from Hernando County Commission Chairman Jeff Holcomb to the Conservation Commission. That area also includes two public schools: Westside Elementary School and the Spring Hill campus of Pasco-Hernando State College, which abuts the lake.

In 2017, Holcomb noted in the letter, the county and state both spent money to enhance a five-acre rookery on the lake.

The county may face long odds, however, in getting the state to establish a bird sanctuary.

The Conservation Commission hasn't designated a bird sanctuary in more than 20 years, according to spokesperson Tammy Sapp, said only once in that time has designated a restricted hunting area.

Meanwhile, residents like Anger are left hoping that the urging of county commissioners will be enough to sway the Fish and Wildlife Commission.

"This carries a little bit more weight," he said, but he still wants state officials to see it from the homeowners' point of view: "Would they want somebody hunting in their backyard?"

Contact Jack Evans at jevans@tampabay.com. Follow @JackHEvans.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Mama is available for adoption. Hernando County Animal Services
    Hernando County shelter pet offerings
  2. Hernando County School District
    Local officials’ requests for legislators also include sewer project funding and teacher bonus reforms.
  3. Kathleen Hudak, historian with the Brooksville Cemetery, tells the story of William Henry, son of Mr. and Mrs. Quitman Varn during a walking tour of the historic Brooksville Cemetery on Tuesday as part of Brooksville's Founders' Week celebration. The boy died from appendicitis in 1913 at the  age of 9. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
  4. ANGELIQUE HERRING   |   Times
From left to right, Racheal Shaefer, Victoria Asencio and FLG X guide Jessica Seitz watch and encourage Ashley Concepcion, top center, as she starts out on the first course at FLG X on July 5 in Brooksville. With four courses ranging in difficulty, the adventure park previously called "Treeumph!" officially reopened with a charity event benefiting the Boys & Girls Club of Hernando County. HERRING, ANGELIQUE  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Hernando County commissioners want to encourage the park operator to buy the property.
  5. A Hernando County Sheriff's deputy talks to students in the cafeteria of Brooksville Elementary School in 2018. Earlier this month, the school district put forward a proposal to move away from a contract with the Sheriff and establish its own police force. On Tuesday, it announced it would drop that idea.
    Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis spoke out this week against the proposal.
  6. Hernando County community news Tara McCarty
    Letters to the editor from Hernando County
  7. The traffic signal for eastbound traffic on Drew Street at McMullen-Booth Road in Clearwater. Image by Archive
    A reader wonders why the sign at the end of Bayside Bridge instructs trucks heading north to exit during specified hours rather than stay on the bridge.
  8. Austin Wyatt Altman Pasco County Sheriff's Office
    The 22-year-old man said he picked up the girl in Hernando County after meeting her on a popular social media app.
  9. Actors emerge from a simulated farmhouse at the center of the Infected Haunted House at Scream-A-Geddon in Dade City. Luis Santana
    Fall fests, haunted trails and other scares kick off Halloween festivities.
  10. A New Generation unveils its new name and affiliation with Obria Medical Clinics during its 20th anniversary celebration in Brooksville in September. From left: New Generation board members Greg Shaw and John Pidek, executive director Cheryl Bennett and founder Stephanie Knight. Cheryl Bennett
    A New Generation will become part of Obria Medical Clinics and add medical services.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement