After a beloved neighborhood deer was shot and killed in city limits in October, city officials passed a new ordinance that makes it illegal to hunt in Gig Harbor.
The ordinance was passed after a second reading during the Nov. 27 Gig Harbor City Council meeting.
Gig Harbor Police Chief Kelly Busey said he was compelled to change the law after hearing a report that a male deer nicknamed “Bucky,” was spotted by residents wounded and later found dead on private property.
“The report I get is that it was on somebody’s private property off of Pioneer Way,” Busey said. “It was a buck that had been in the neighborhood a long time. (The property owner) called his buddy, who had a bowhunting license and a deer tag.”
At the time, it was open season and, to the surprise of many residents, it was not illegal to go bowhunting within city limits, Busey said.
“So his buddy came over and shot the deer,” he said. “The injured deer ran to an adjacent property. The hunter got his truck and as tactfully as he could, he put the deer in his truck. But a lot of people saw it.”
Busey received a dozen phone calls to his personal number from residents concerned about the activity and upset that the deer was killed.
After the incident, police and the Gig Harbor City Council received a lot of complaints in regards to deer hunting in the city and a lack of hunting regulations within city limits.
Before the new ordinance was drafted and passed, hunting laws were enforced by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Residents Peter and Jeanne Hampl, both avid outdoor enthusiasts, were two of many voices asking the city to find a solution to the issue. Peter sent a letter to the city and to Busey asking city officials to close the hunting loophole.
“I am an avid hunter. I hunt as much as 30-plus days a year in eastern Washington for waterfowl,” Hampl stated in his letter. “The ‘hunting’ and killing of the deer off Pioneer Way was not hunting. It was a killing of an animal that had no fear of man and was as close to being tame as ‘wild’ animals could be. The hunt was not on equal terms.”
Hampl said his family, like others in the neighborhood, were able to approach the deer with food and to take photos. He ended the letter requesting the city look into a ban on hunting in Gig Harbor.
Busey said beforehand it was only illegal to shoot a gun or hunt with a gun in the city, but it was not against the law to hunt with a bow and arrow.
“I think it’s dangerous to use any projectile in city limits,” he said.
Although hunting is now banned, archery enthusiasts can still practice with a bow and arrow in the city as long as they have the proper licensing.
The new ordinance, which became law on Tuesday, states “It shall be unlawful to hunt any animal by any means within the city limits. This prohibition does not apply to the removal of nuisance household animals, such as rodents and moles. Any person convicted of a violation of the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor.”
A misdemeanor can cost anyone convicted of breaking the ordinance up to $1,000 in fines or 90 days in jail.