May 302012

By Naomi Hatch —

The Snowflake Town Council discussed amending the town code regarding weapons during a previous meeting, and asked staff to review the current code and bring back suggested changes.

One of the concerns was regarding new legislation, hunting laws and regulations, so the council sought clarification from the Arizona Game and Fish Department, which was represented by Law Enforcement Supervisor Daniel Dymond at the May 22 council meeting.

Dymond made a PowerPoint presentation, noting that legislators from Tucson proposed hunting within city limits and as a result, Senate Bill 1334 was passed. It “Permits discharge of firearm within the limits of any municipality while lawfully taking wildlife as established by Arizona Game and Fish Commission.”

“That was quite a big change,” said Dymond, noting that it would allow the shooting of firearms within city limits if you are 440 yards or a quarter-mile from a residence and have permission to shoot, verbal or written, from the resident.

This new legislation meant that many inter-governmental agreements were cancelled; it recommended that the commission order revisions to be made; and many weapon restrictions apply to each hunt.

“Regardless of where the gun is at and is fired, the person is lawfully responsible for where the projectile goes,” said Mayor Kelly Willis.

Arizona Game and Fish Department has primary law enforcement responsibility for hunting, trapping and fishing activities statewide, explained Dymond, who noted that one of the concerns is that private landowners within a municipality, who do not wish to have hunting on their land, now are required to “post” their land. He said that the change in the law does not allow any hunter to trespass on private property.

Dymond also discussed prairie dogs, explaining that they are not a game animal or a game bird, and are not federally protected. There is no season and no license required, and if they are causing property damage, such as digging holes making the land unsafe, it is legal to shoot them, but you must be a quarter-mile from a residence and have permission from the landowners.

He advised that if people are shooting prairie dogs, they should notify Fish and Game or the local police department that they are shooting so officers are not dispatched to a “shots fired” call.

Following the presentation and with very little discussion, a motion was made to approve Ordinance No. 12-03, an ordinance to amend the Snowflake Town Code Title 5, chapter 3, Section 4, entitled weapons.

Police Chief Jerry VanWinkle said he felt that this was addressed in Title 17 and felt it was necessary.

Councilman Tom Poscharsky expressed concern that citizens would be required to interpret Title 17, and Councilman Larry Matyas felt it was a good statement to add, seconding the motion.

In response to a question posed by Councilwoman Lorri Davis, Chief VanWinkle explained that this ordinance still did not allow use of other weapons, such as a bow and arrow, a BB gun, air gun, pellet gun, dart gun, slingshot, gas operated gun (air soft or paintball gun) or other similar gun or instrument within the limits of Snowflake or on any public property.

The motion was approved and the first reading of the ordinance was held.