Troy Shantz & George Mathewson
Residents in Point Edward and parts of Sarnia have been waking up to the sound of gunfire near the Blue Water Bridge, and they’re not happy about it.
The booms and pops have come from U.S. waterfowl hunters in boats in the St. Clair River and mouth of Lake Huron. The hunt was especially loud the morning of Dec. 3 when as many as 200 gunshots were heard.
“It sounded like Armageddon from Point Edward,” said village resident Andrew Bolter.
“Duck and goose hunting should not be allowed near urban areas and so close to the border and a shipping lane. I sincerely hope the OPP and coast guard were out there monitoring our waters.”
Sarnia resident Mary Jo Mather, who lives near the lake, said she contacted the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, but the agency was unreceptive about her complaints.
“I feel as though I’m living in Syria. We’re held hostage to this American gun issue,” she said. “And there’s nothing we can do about it.”
The fall season for ducks and geese in southern Michigan ran from September to Dec. 10, but resumes again briefly Dec. 30-31 and then again from Jan. 27 to Feb. 12.
Hunters are allowed to take five “dark” geese a day, including three Canada geese, and an aggregate bag limit of 20 “light” geese a day.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said it made several rule changes this year to give hunters more opportunities.
Joel Anderson, the owner of Anderson’s Pro Bait in Port Huron, says he “totally understands” the concern of neighbours across the river because some Port Huron residents are equally frustrated.
Anderson said the mouth of the lake has been a staging area for large flocks of long-tailed ducks, formerly known as oldsquaw ducks. Because of social media, word spreads quickly about good hunting opportunities, he said.
Michigan law allows firearms hunting provided it’s 450 feet or more from occupied buildings, and the DNR has other rules to keep hunters in check, Anderson said.
When complaints are received officers respond with more patrols and write tickets, which start at $150, he said.
Hunting is not allowed until twilight, which is currently about 7:15 a.m.
Anderson said most hunters are courteous but a few will “push the envelope” and navigate boats slightly inside the 450-foot limit.
He said there’s little risk to public safety because shotgun pellets used on waterfowl don’t usually travel beyond 450 feet.
The sound of echoing shotguns isn’t new but this fall’s hunt seems to have ruffled the feathers of Point Edward residents, said Mayor Bev Hand.
“I’m use to it,” she said. “I never thought it was something we could argue against.”
Mary Jo Mather said she’s lived in her Sarnia home for 28 years and this waterfowl hunt is the most disruptive by far.
“Americans and their guns,” she said. “You’ve got to live with it.”