- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Friends of Dyke Marsh, a Northern Virginia citizens group with members who live near the Potomac River’s Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve just south of Old Town Alexandria, want the waterfowl hunting to come to a halt there even though it has been approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Actually, the hunting, most of which is for duck, is not done inside the preserve but on a small section of the river’s edge, removed from hikers’ traffic and then only for a relatively short period of time. The carefully regulated hunting doesn’t threaten anyone and makes far less noise than the airplanes taking off from Reagan National or even the sound of car horns from vehicles crossing the Wilson Bridge. But when the anti-hunters make up their minds, the only things that matter are their wishes. To heck with what others want.

In a series of comments to the VDGIF concerning a request to stop the hunting, an unidentified Falls Church resident wrote: “I have been hunting Dyke Marsh since 1996. The comments I’ve seen so far against [the hunting] aren’t based in fact. I’ve never seen any hunting take place away from the [safety] buoys. Buoy placement is overly sufficient to keep hikers, bird watchers and people safe on their property. Nobody hunts the Marsh proper. The buoy placements are in the river and several hundred yards from the refuge.

“Hunting is already restricted to weekdays only, and frankly, I’ve never encountered anybody out there while hunting except hunters, fishermen and the game warden. I’ve never been met with a complaint - ever.”

Another comment came from a Fairfax County resident who wrote: “I believe that we need to keep this resource open to hunters in Northern Virginia. It’s the only public waterfowl hunting in the area. I believe that those who oppose do so because of the idea of hunting itself, not because of safety. It’s public water, and its use should be balanced. I don’t kayak, but I wouldn’t dare advocate banning it.”

Yet another local resident in favor of keeping the marsh edge open to waterfowl hunting wrote: “Of the many areas along the Potomac, I see Dyke Marsh as one of the safest for waterfowling. I actually never saw a house along the water. The buoy locations are situated in a manner that predisposes the hunter to shoot away from the tree line and homes. The noise, shot and potential danger are directed away from inhabitants. Also, there is enough jet noise there to make the sound of gunfire an all but moot point. Let’s call this one as it is. People bought houses and showed up expecting things a certain way. Their way. The hunting situation at Dyke Marsh has not changed. The surrounding development has changed. And like the jet noise and I-95 traffic, it was here before they were. It comes with the territory.”

Even a mother with three young boys wrote to say she wasn’t worried. She wrote the VDGIF to say: “I am never concerned that the presence of [hunters] will harm me or my children. I know that hunters can only hunt from fixed locations that are too far away for us to be harmed by an errant shot. For that matter, these positions are so far away that even a person who intended to harm us with a shotgun would be unable to do so.”

There you have it. However, the Friends of Dyke Marsh likely aren’t listening to such comments. They want the hunting stopped, and political correctness being what it is these days, they might get their wish. The group says hunting disturbs wildlife, especially those breeding and nesting. Somebody please inform those folks that there’s no wildlife nesting and breeding going on during duck-hunting season.

If George Washington, who did a bit of waterfowl shooting himself, knew what was happening not far from his Mount Vernon home, he would object loudly to the tree-huggers who can’t abide by the fact that millions of Americans enjoy hunting. Like a fast-food company’s commercial, the antis “want it their way.”

That’s a crying shame.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected] Mueller’s Inside Outside blog can be found at www.washingtontimes.com/sports.

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