Hunters And Land Owners Clash In Southern Pocahontas County
Frost, WV – During the January edition of Commissioners Corner with the Pocahontas County Commissioners, one caller spoke to the Commissioners about a group of hunters in the southern end of the county. The caller refers to them as a gang because of what he calls their history of territoriality and collective retaliation when challenged. The caller claims to have experienced this retaliation himself when taking the hunters to task for disturbing the peace or letting their animals run free on privately owned land.
While Commission President David Fleming points out that the recently passed County Dog Ordinance doesn’t apply to hunting dogs, he says he’s nonetheless sympathetic to the callers’ complaint.
“I haven’t really had any conversations with the Sheriff or the Sheriffs’ dept about what you speak of, but I would be glad to talk with him and see what from his perspective, what the issue is and what his deputies are dealing with” says Fleming. “I have spoken with individuals about this specific thing within the last year, so I am aware of it.”
Fleming says he’s not sure what kind of noise ordinance, if any, is currently in the county code. Commissioner Jamie Walker perhaps has a better understanding of the issue.
“Well, I’m personally a hunter myself” he says. “There is several different groups or gangs, whatever you want to call them, but we do not affiliate with each other in most cases. It’s just like football teams, if you play for one team, you’re on that team; if you play another team, you’re on that team. As far as the dogs being on private property, that relies right back on lack of respect for the landowner and the group you’re dealing with. Some people has respect, some people don’t.”
He says he uses modern tracking equipment to keep of his dogs, and does his best to keep them off of private property. But he says that’s hard to do when landowners deliberately entice wild animals onto their property.
“What I run into a lot is a lot of the people that’s got their property posted, is actually feeding the animals and baiting them in on their property” says Walker. “And we have a lot of government land, so if you’re bringing animals off of government land onto your property, even though you’re hunting on the government [land] it’s hard to keep the dogs off of private property.”
Fleming says this may just be a case of a few less considerate hunters giving responsible hunters a bad name.
“And certainly in any sport or recreational activity, there are people who misrepresent the majority” says Fleming. “I’d like to say that I appreciate Mr. Walkers thoughts and perspective on this at the Commission level, we very much need that.”