The ongoing issue of target shooters in the Musquash conservation area was back before the Conservation Commission once again. At its Tuesday, May 14 meeting, member Mike Considine said the problem was a relatively new phenomenon and seemed to be growing.
“I’ve been out to the Musquash five days a week for a long time and there hadn’t been hardly any shooters in the past,” he said. “It seems that there are more now and their numbers are growing. People are getting the word out that the Musquash is a place to go target shooting.”
Considine said shooters are aiming into areas where trails are close by. “In one area the elevation is only 5 feet and there are shooters shooting into the rise,” he said. “There is a trail at the top where hikers are walking and may or may not be in view of the shooters.”
He added that shooters have hung paper targets on trees. “You can see the damage done to the trees,” he said, adding, “they hit rocks and there are ricochets and there are people drinking beer and then shooting the beer cans and bottles. They don’t even bother to pick up and remove their trash.” He said his objective is to see the Musquash safe for hiking and biking, not to eliminate target shooting, but “the only way you’re going to make the Musquash safe is to eliminate target shooting.
“We need to provide the target shooters a safe place to shoot,” he added, noting that the Londonderry Fish and Game Club charges yearly membership of $120 a year, or $90 a year for those who volunteer for four hours on a weekend. He does not think it possible to find a safe place for target shooting in the Musquash. Commissioner Truda Bloom noted that the shooters in the Musquash pay nothing.
Considine passed around a bag with spent shells picked up from the ground in the Musquash. “Some of these are .22 caliber and some are quite large, from semi-automatic weapons,” he said, adding he knows of at least a dozen places in the Musquash where shooting takes place.
He said New Hampshire Fish & Game is responsible for regulating hunting, but according to statute, it can do nothing about target shooting. He noted the state had issued an administrative rule that stopped duck hunting at Kendall Pond, as the area was too close to houses and birdshot was found on residential property, but as long as shooting takes place more than 300 feet from residences, the state can do nothing.
“The only way you’re going to make the Musquash safe is to do away with target shooting,” Considine said.
Deb Lievens, Conservation Commission chair, said Considine loves the Musquash and visits it all the time. “That’s what you do with volunteers when they get excited about a project – you let them run with it, and he’s acting as a sort of point man for the commission on this,” she said of his research into Musquash target shooting.
Considine suggested talking with the town attorney, an option Acting Town Manager William Hart has also mentioned.