County struggles to enforce law that bans shooting in McKinleyville recreation areas

Prohibited shooting in McKinleyville

Jamie Bellermann enjoys walking at one of the many recreational trails near the Mad River in McKinleyville.

"I'm hiking on the mad river bluff trail, every day, twice a day," Bellermann said.

He often takes his toddler and dog with him on his walks, but sometimes he hears gunshots.

"It isn't a frequent enough occasion that I'm fearing for my safety and that I've stopped walking there," Bellermann said. "But I think it's appropriate to take action."

Lt. Mike Fridley with the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office said the county has an ordinance in place that prohibits shooting in that recreational area.

"There's people down there with dogs walking and there's trails," Lt. Fridley said. "It's just not a safe place to shoot."

However, people have been shooting in the area regardless.

"I think it's unsafe," Bellermann said. "My reaction has been to call the sheriff's office and they have not responded."

Lt. Fridley said getting caught discharging a firearm in the prohibited area could result in a misdemeanor and potential confiscation of the firearm. However, catching someone in the act is a challenge for law enforcement.

"That's a big area," Lt. Fridley said. "If you don't want to get caught, you could shoot a couple of times, get some ducks and then get in the brush and be gone before any of us get there. In the end, this a serious call, but we've got prioritize our calls."

Greg Orsini, the general manager of the Mckinleyville Community Services District said the county has decided to purchase more signs to notify the public that hunting is not allowed.

"I believe that the county is going to post signs more along the river so that they can be seen from the river," Orsini said.

He hopes it will help, but said it will only affect those who don't already know the law.

"The people that are ignorant to the fact that there's no hunting down here, they're going to obey the law, the signs will help," Orsini said. "But the people that are going to scoff whether the signs are there or not are going to continue to hunt."

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