City of Brookfield, Elm Grove move to limit bowhunting

Feb. 6, 2014

If ordinances in the works in the city of Brookfield and Elm Grove go through, the only place left for bowhunting in the communities could be on private property.

The actions are a response to state laws passed in December that opened up crossbow use to all hunters and put restrictions on how municipalities can regulate the use of crossbows and traditional bows. Previously, only people older than 65 or people with a physical disability could use crossbows, while other hunters were limited to using a traditional bow.

Advocates of the law say it will allow more people to participate in the sport of bowhunting, because traditional bows require more strength to operate.

In the city of Brookfield, city attorney Karen Flaherty said she is drafting an ordinance doing the "strictest thing possible" to limit bowhunting, as allowed under state law. The ordinance would prohibit the use of bows and crossbows on city-owned or city-leased land. It would also prohibit bowhunting within 100 yards of a residence without that owner's permission, and require that hunters shoot downward.

Elm Grove Village Manager Dave De Angelis said the village's attorney also is working on an ordinance to restrict use of bows and crossbows on public property.

De Angelis said Elm Grove already has an ordinance that prohibits the discharge of any weapon within the village. But because of the language in the new state law, the ordinance no longer applies to bowhunting. Without a new ordinance, this would leave village parks and lands open to the sport during its next season, which will begin in September. De Angelis said he hopes to have an ordinance through before then.

All county land in Brookfield and Elm Grove already prohibits hunting of any kind, Park Program Specialist Ginny Bocek said.

Hunting is banned in all county-developed parks, but there are some county lands outside Brookfield and Elm Grove where hunting is allowed, such as greenways. The closest county land to Brookfield that allows hunting is the Pewaukee River Greenway.

Several Brookfield residents have been alarmed by seeing people carrying crossbows through the city.

Brookfield resident Susie Thompson attended a meeting of the Legislative and Licensing Committee on Jan. 21 to hear about the proposed ordinance because she was concerned about safety hazards. She said she saw an injured deer walking through her backyard on Rockway Lane last month, and believed it had been shot by a bow.

"Our concern was they were hunting in an area with a lot of kids," Thompson said.

Alderman Jeff McCarthy said several of his constituents have called him worried about people hunting on conservancy land near their homes. Without the ordinance drafted by Flaherty, bowhunting is allowed on these city lands during bowhunting season, although it is prohibited in official parks.

Police also have dealt with these concerns.

A resident called police Jan. 23 to report a man taking a crossbow into conservancy land in the 15400 block of Shamrock Lane. Police told the resident it was legal to hunt there.


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