County gives tentative approval to wild turkey hunt

Despite opposition from animal rights activists and other opponents, San Diego County Board of Supervisors gave tentative approval to a two-day, juniors-only wild turkey hunt on the county’s Santa Ysabel East Preserve.

The first reading of ordinance passed 3-2 on Dec. 7 and will be considered for final approval Jan. 25. It would permit up to 10 supervised youngsters to hunt wild turkeys with bows and arrows or guns at the Santa Ysabel reserve on March 17 and March 18.

“This is about allowing kids the opportunity, the ones that want to, the ones that choose to, an opportunity where we have an overabundance of turkeys under strict supervision to learn the basics about using a weapon and also hunting,’’ Supervisor Dianne Jacob said.

The 3,800-acre preserve includes a turkey habitat and may be closed to the public on the hunt days, county staffers said.

The hunters would need licenses, training and supervision, said Bob Fusco, president of the San Diego chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Supervisor Pam Slater-Price and board Vice-Chairman Ron Roberts cast the dissenting votes, though both said they were not opposed to hunting in general.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for county parks or county preserves to be used for hunting purposes,” Slater-Price said. “What we should be doing is encouraging those hunting clubs and others who want to pursue hunting, which is a legal activity in the state of California, to do so on state land where hunting is permitted, or on private property...if the owner agrees.’’

Some public speakers were concerned about hunting on county land.

“I am a hunter. I taught my son to hunt, but not in a public park,” said Patsy Fritz of Pauma Valley. “We should not have to fear that guns and hunting will ever be a hazard in our parks.”

Activists with the Animal Protection and Rescue League also objected to the hunt.

A similar juniors-only hunt was held last March at William Heise Regional Park near Julian. Four of the six youths got a turkey, county staffers said.

   
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