Duck Hunters In Shollenberger Concern for Visitors

Numerous reports of shots fired into park worry residents; hunting allowed on private land and only to those with permit


Visitors to Shollenberger Park were caught off guard last week by gunshots fired in the area.

It's duck hunting season, after all, but at least one witness said she was scared after it appeared that the hunters were pointing their guns inside the popular recreational area.

Alexandra, a Mill Valley resident who declined to give her last name, was out on a walk with her husband and two children on Thursday when they heard gunshots and then saw two young men wander out of the shrubs.

One of the men swore at Alexandra, then stripped down to his underwear and ran to retrieve a duck he had shot. The other pulled down his pants and urinated in the water, she said.

“We were just shocked, there were women and kids there…there was no respect for civility,” she said. “It’s also a public safety issue.”

Petaluma Police confirm receiving numerous calls about gunshots in the area, but say it’s unclear whether anyone was actually shooting into the park.

“There is open land around the marsh and hunting is allowed for people who have a hunting license,” explained Lt. Tim Lyons, a police spokesman. “The birds could have landed in the park and they could have gone in to retrieve them.”

Gerald Moore, a member of the Petaluma Wetlands Alliance and volunteer docent at Shollenberger, says the problem is not new. Ellis Creek, where the hunters were spotted, used to be county land and hunting was previously permitted there. But several years ago, the parcel was annexed by the city and incorporated into the park.

“We have Fish and Game put up ‘No Hunting’ signs, but they get ripped out because people don’t want to be caught red handed (if someone sees them hunting). But at the end of the day, it’s not safe to be shooting into a park full of people.“ 

Another issue is the marshy terrain that makes it hard to apprehend illegal hunters or those engaging in dangerous behavior. The Petaluma Police Department doesn’t have a boat it can use to patrol the river and the boat belonging to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office is often tied up on other calls around the county, Moore said.

Have you seen hunters around Shollenberger Park? Can the city or county do more to make sure no one is hurt by random gunfire?

mikeg55 January 29, 2013 at 03:08 PM
But it's Wabbit Season!!!
AvoidTheRedPill January 29, 2013 at 04:48 PM
Sickening. Cretins.
tracy January 29, 2013 at 05:12 PM
dont the birds have any place they can go to be safe.Who was the jerk who deemed this outrage OK?This wouldent happen in Marin Cty!
boethius January 29, 2013 at 06:23 PM
I was down at the park last week and the shots scared the crap out of me. Didn't see the hunters but definitely heard the shots very closely as I approached the turn that is closest to the Petaluma River. I respect the right of people to hunt but it doesn't seem to be legal in this case and if they're shooting ducks into the park that seems crazy.
Green Boy January 29, 2013 at 06:49 PM
Ridiculous. These scared clowns should go back to where they came from. You shoot an innocent duck. Get a life. I would have definitely set my dog after these boys for a good ol' hunt. Where is the city on this?? I mean, step it up here! This park is used by thousands of families. This is beyond a public safety issue. How's this news look to potential families wanting to buy a house, raise a family in Luma? Come on, leaders need to call a public announcement on this and become a leader, not a silent laggard.
Bill Fishman January 29, 2013 at 07:09 PM
With a few logical exceptions, it is already unlawful to discharge a firearm within 150 yards of an "inhabited" building or residence in Sonoma County; but that disregards the most important issue: where the projectile lands. There is strict civil liability when people who engage in inherently dangerous activities cause injury or property damage to others; but idiots like these guys are not likely to care much about the chance of getting sued -- especially when catching them and proving that they are responsible for a specific incident would practically impossible. I think the County ordinance ought to be amended: except in self-defense situations it should be unlawful to discharge a firearm in the county in such a manner that the projectile strikes any building or lands within any area in which people are present.
Karina Ioffee January 29, 2013 at 08:40 PM
Thanks, everyone for the comments. Gerald Moore says that a public education campaign is in the works to let people know that hunting or even discharging a gun anywhere near the park is dangerous. We'll also ask supervisor Rabbitt about what could be done. This is scary!!
Darris January 29, 2013 at 08:58 PM
Civility? Don't see much of that in our, "I'm more important than you" culture . . .
Neal Fishman January 29, 2013 at 09:14 PM
Clearly Mr. Fishman lacks creativity. If we want to prove where a piece of lead came from, it has to be from a gun that leaves the traces forensic scientists need to match it to a specific gun. I say no more shotgun hunting for ducks or anything else near populated areas. If you want to hunt near houses or people use a high powered rifle. If used properly a semi automatic with a large replaceable magazine can simulate the firepower of a shotgun. Hit a duck with one of those babies, you won't even have to clean it.
Wire January 30, 2013 at 06:08 AM
Commercial and recreational waterfowl hunting was popular in the tidal marshlands of the Petaluma River before the turn of the century. Recreational hunting was supported by blinds constructed beside the larger tidal marsh ponds. Responsibility for these blinds and hunting “rights” have been unofficially transferred among generations of hunters. many of the ponds have historical names. Ever hear those assault weapons going off in the east bay? I rather hear those duck hunters along the river. With no trees that sound travels a greater distance and for falling lead or steel shot over 300 yards you probability would not know it even dropped on your person. Being naive please learn of your fright. After being drilled over weeks of Newtown school shooting doesn't help right? A lethal duck shot could be 40 yards max, or 120 feet. Sounds awful right? Ever see a great horned owl feed through Canada geese goslings? It was fun to watch mother nature at her fineness. We had less geese last year less geese crap thanks to the owls
Karina Ioffee January 30, 2013 at 07:39 PM
I'm also being told that the monthly forum at Aqus with Supervisor David Rabbitt, scheduled for Tues, Feb. 5 at 7:30pm, is a good opportunity to address the issue of hunters in or near Shollenberger and how the county can assist with better signage and enforcement.
Ingrid Larnis January 31, 2013 at 07:34 AM
Dear Karina, thank you for being the voice of reason here. Shollenberger park is a bird sanctuary and a protected wetland. It is not a place for rednecks to practise their shooting of birds in a barrel. The birds feel safe here. So many of us look out for them and admire them. Ingrid Larnis.


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