DEP Says Towns Are Free To Extend Hunting Safety Zone [AUDIO]
After nearby gunshots caused commotion at the Griebling School in Howell Township, parents from the school were outraged hunters were allowed so close to the building.
However, officials from the DEP say there was never any threat and municipalities have full discretion to increase the 450 feet firearm safety zone for schools and playgrounds.
Larry Rangonese, spokesman from the DEP, says the current 450 feet safety zone for fire arms and 150 foot safety zone for bows have been around since the 1950's, but they're designed so municipalities can expand them as development and land use changes.
"It's a rule that's in place but there's plenty of flexibility with it and towns like Howell or others do have some ability to make some changes if they care to."
Adding, the municipality would get no interference from the state.
He notes in the Howell "incident," the DEP received reports that someone heard a gunshot in the vicinity of the school. Conservation Officers were sent in, and according to Rangonese, they found a couple of hunters who were legally goose hunting in a farm field not too far from the school.
"Our conservation officers did actually check their stories out and look for their shells and found them 11,000 feet from the edge of the school property, nowhere near the school and far far beyond the safety zone."
He notes hunting is allowed throughout the state in many wooded areas that lie adjacent to farm and schools, all without incident.
"In the known state history, there's never been a hunting incident where hunters have inadvertently say come near a school and shot and nearly hit someone or anything of that nature."
Rangonese says he understands that parents were scared after the Newton shooting only days prior, and misjudged the distance of the shots.
"When it comes to the sound of discharge of a gun, depending on the weather at the time, whether there is a climate inversion you might have an echo of a gun. It would depend on the wind."
That means shots that are farther could sound closer and ones that are closer would barely be heard.