A proposed ordinance to restrict hunting in City Creek Canyon discussed at a Salt Lake City Council session Thursday is already shaping up to be a derisive issue among hunters and hikers.
"Unless you were going to shoot the hunters, I wouldn't vote for this," Councilwoman Sydney Fonnesbeck said.Council members were briefed by Public Works Director LeRoy Hooton, Jr. on the proposed ordinance, which would bring the city in line with state firearms laws. A public hearing on the measure is scheduled for Aug. 9.
Although city ordinances prohibit firing a gun within city limits, exemptions for hunting can be made by Hooton. City Creek Canyon, north of the city, is currently open to deer hunters during October's hunting season.
But under the proposed ordinance, which, like state law, prohibits gunfire within one mile of an inhabited building, hunting would be prohibited in the lower 5 1/2 miles of the canyon, which is popular among joggers, hikers and walkers.
Fonnesbeck objects to the ordinance because it isn't restrictive enough and permits hunting in the upper part of the canyon in the Rotary Park area. She called her opposition a "moral" issue, saying hunters "slaughter" deer in the canyon.
"This is like letting hunters loose in Liberty Park," Fonnesbeck said.
But Hooton called the measure a good compromise that should be sought because of a strong lobby among hunters who belong to the National Rifle Association. Hunters could thwart the city from annexing the upper reaches of the canyon, he said.
The city would like to annex the land from Salt Lake County to protect one of the Salt Lake City's main water supplies.
"It resolves the issue between both sides," he said. The area open for hunting is less frequented by non-hunters.
"No one has ever been hurt up there. No one's been shot. No one's been wounded,' Hooton said. "But the canyon is changing,' he said, noting an increase in use that demands regulation.
Hooton and some council members agreed the issue would be hotly contested by hunters, who want to retain their hunting privileges there, and non-hunters, who want to keep the area free from gunfire.