Duck hunters’ gunshots frightening Pinellas residents near Bayside Bridge

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Residents near the Bayside Bridge in Pinellas County complain they are waking up before dawn every day to the blast of shotguns — dozens of shotguns that don’t stop shooting until dark.

It’s Florida duck hunting season and a number of duck hunters have discovered hundreds of birds flocking to a panoramic part of Tampa Bay east of the Bayside Bridge that also happens to be populated by dozens of irate homeowners from the Seabrooke subdivision to the Cove Cay development.

“It’s very frightening,” said Jessica Sites. “One misfire and one missed shot in a certain direction and that could be my kid that’s shot or my dog that’s hurt.”

“Duck season is only one month,” said hunter Mike Thompson. “And your dogs are scared? Really, people are saying that? I mean I think it’s blown a little bit out of proportion if people are scared their dogs are scared that’s crazy.”

Thompson insists his party of four duck hunters stayed well offshore Tuesday.

But Sites tells 8 On Your Side another duck hunter came dangerously close to her backyard Monday.

“I’d say within 100 yards or less yesterday, one of them was actually getting out of his boat with his gun and walking around the shoreline with his gun,” Sites said.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has received have a dozen gunshot noise complaints from the Cove Cay area during the past two weeks, but there is nothing deputies can do to resolve the concerns of residents.

That’s because duck hunting in bay waters is state-sanctioned and legal as long as it is done in a “safe and prudent manner,” according to FWC Spokesman James Boogaerts.

Legal or not, Sites wishes the duck hunters would just go somewhere else for the rest of the season that ends January 28.

“There’s got to be places that aren’t surrounded by homes or surrounded by houses and kids. I think people need to start using a little more common sense,” Sites said.

The former Executive Director of United Waterfowlers said the hunting is legal as long as hunters are not shooting over private property.

“Regarding duck hunting in state waters near shorelines and complaints from residents. The ducks are in their natural areas and historical waterfowling habitats. The residents have bulldozed prime wetland habitats to build their intrusive houses, destroying wildlife. They have no right to complain. As long as the hunters do not shoot over private property they are legal. Ethical hunters present no danger to the residents. Ducks are hunted with bird shot that is short range and low velocity,” said Newton Cook,  former Executive Director of United Waterfowlers of Florida.

 

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