Insurance, town code muzzle request for mentored hunts on rural town of Millsboro property

MILLSBORO – Wildlife – turkeys in particular – have been pardoned on rural land owned by the town of Millsboro.

Insurance stipulation and prohibition spelled out in town code have teamed as a double-barreled roadblock in the request for mentored hunts through a National Wild Turkey Federation/Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife partnership.

The NWTF and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control had sought council’s approval to conduct mentored hunts on town-owned farmland known locally as the White Farm near US 113 and SR 20.

The aim of these hunts was to stimulate interest in hunting and increase the number of hunters, according to Mark Ostroski, Delaware Hunter Education Coordinator for DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife. Mr. Ostroski and Charles Spray of the NWTF addressed council at its January meeting.

Millsboro Town Manager Sheldon Hudson shared word from the town’s insurance company with council at the Feb. 5 meeting.

“The insurance company indicated that the underwriter was not willing to insure any hunting activity performed by a town employee. So, that is the long and short of it,” said Mr. Hudson.

In addition, Mr. Hudson noted town code – Section 105-1 – states that it is unlawful to discharge firearms in the town of Millsboro, with the exception of a police officer for archery activities under direction of chief of police.

Verbatim, Section 105-1 reads: “It shall be unlawful for any person to discharge firearms, fireworks, air guns, slingshots, bows and/or crossbows within the corporate limits of the Town of Millsboro; provided, however, that the provisions of this chapter shall not prohibit the use of firearms by any person in the lawful defense of his personal property, nor a police officer in the discharge of his duties. The provisions of this chapter shall also not prohibit any person or organization from receiving permission from the Chief of Police of the Town of Millsboro to conduct archery activities at an archery range approved by the Chief of Police. The archery activity and the archery range must be approved by the Chief in writing, in advance of the activity or event in question.”

Section 105-2, which pertains to violations and penalties, states: “Any person violating any of the provisions of § 105-1 hereof shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $250, or imprisoned for a term not more than 30 days, or both, and shall pay the costs of prosecution, including, but not limited to, reasonable attorneys’ fees. In the event of repeat offenses, the presiding judge shall have the discretion to impose a fine greater than $250 as the judge deems necessary and appropriate under the circumstances.”

The hope of the NWTF and DNREC was to begin with several turkey hunts this spring, and possibly expand to mentored deer and other hunts at some point down the road. While not exclusive, the mentored hunting program targeted youth in hopes of increasing interest in hunting.

As presented to council, mentored hunts would typically be two mentors for one mentee, and all participants – mentors and mentees – would be required sign a waiver release, removing the town from any liability. Those under the age of 18 would also need parental signature to participate.

Now, hunting activity will not be allowed.

“I think the thinking was that if town employees can’t, that by extension” the public should not be allowed to hunt there either, Mr. Hudson said.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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