By Nicole Rivard
UPDATE 12/1/17: Hunter Thomas Jadlowski has been charged with second-degree manslaughter and hunting after hours.
Tis the season for putting your life at risk if you want to go outdoors to walk a dog, ride a bike or hike on public or private land.
That’s because trigger happy hunters are out trying to kill any wildlife in their crosshairs, and no amount of orange clothing is going to make human animals safe.
We are sickened and saddened by the news that Rosemary Billquist, 43, who was just walking her dogs near her western New York home, was fatally shot last week by her hunter neighbor Thomas B. Jadlowski, who told police he mistook her for a deer. He was hunting after sunset, which is prohibited by law in New York, however Jadlowski faces a measly fine not to exceed $250 and 15 days or less in jail, according to an environmental conservation police officer from the NYDEC. Outrageous! (A criminal investigation is also ongoing, so hopefully that will yield some more justice, however it won’t bring Billquist back.)
And this wasn’t the only hunting accident that involved a non-hunter in the news last week. Police in New Hampshire reported that a woman was shot by a hunter near Elm Brook Park in Hopkinton. Authorities say the woman was riding a mountain bike along a trail when she was shot. The area is used for a variety of outdoor activities including hunting, hiking and biking. Luckily, she is in good condition.
Both incidences highlight how important it is for outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife watchers to call for changes. State wildlife agencies receive funding from hunter license fees and taxes on guns and ammo, a clear conflict of interest that explains why wildlife is not respected and forests and parks are being turned into killing grounds.
We need to vote for politicians who are willing to stand up to the hunting agencies and conservation officers who want to continually expand hunting. We need to tell our local elected officials we do not support hunting in our state forests or parks or in nature preserves where other outdoor activities take place.
Let’s face it, hunting safety is an oxymoron. However, agencies don’t care as they just want more clients. This year New York, where now only 5 percent of the population still hunts, has decided to allow junior hunters (14-15 years old) to take bear as well as deer during the youth firearms hunt and one of the requirements is that both the junior hunter and mentor must wear hunter orange visible from all directions: shirt, jacket or vest with at least 250 square inches of solid or patterned orange (the pattern must be at least 50% orange) OR a hat with at least 50% orange.
How ridiculous! Bullets are color blind.
We hope this latest hunting tragedy will lead to even more people to call on public officials to create hunting free zones in our state parks in forests. In Connecticut, for example, it is possible to reverse a decision and eliminate hunting from an area. In Colorado, a proposal was being considered to eliminate shooting on lands that are less than a half-mile from homes or in areas of highly concentrated recreational use.
Human and non-human animals should not have to senselessly lose their lives to recreational violence called hunting.
Nicole Rivard is editor of Friends of Animal’s quarterly magazine Action Line. She brings 18 years of journalism experience to the front lines, protesting and documenting atrocities against animals.