Whatcom County Council voted 4-2 to reintroduce a proposed ordinance that would establish a no shooting zone in Drayton Harbor. The council also voted 4-2 to introduce a no shooting zone in the Dearborn area, near Drayton Harbor and Dakota Creek. Councilmembers Ben Elenbaas and Kathy Kershner were in opposition.
Although initially introduced to county council in 2019 after urging from the city of Blaine, the process to create a no shooting zone slowed during the county’s outreach effort, and then Covid-19 hit.
Blaine city manager Michael Jones said governor Jay Inslee mandated last March that local governments only conduct necessary and essential work pertaining to the pandemic. Once county council was able to take action again, Jones asked the county in February to continue where it left off. But since the ordinance was dormant for an extended period, it needed to be reintroduced.
County council first discussed reintroducing the proposed Drayton Harbor ordinance during the March 9 council meeting, when the separate no shooting ordinance for the Dearborn area was proposed. Both areas are known for waterfowl hunting.
“We would request that the [county] council take this matter back up and establish a no-shooting zone over the unincorporated portions of the harbor,” Jones told county councilmembers during the March 9 county council meeting.
Jones said the city’s stance remains the same as when it wrote the resolution in July 2019 for county council to address concerns of hunting in Drayton Harbor.
“Because Blaine did not annex all the way to Semiahmoo, we have this county area right in the middle,” Blaine mayor Bonnie Onyon said during the March council meeting. “We’re a growing urban area, so that’s a significant point. Whether there has been anyone shot or not, a huge danger of risk of life, there is a perceived notion and people are fearful when they walk along the water.”
In an April 16 letter to Whatcom County Council, Onyon said the city has received requests over the years from residents asking for the shooting to stop in the harbor. She also noted in the letter that Whatcom County has 22 other no shooting zones, including Wiser Lake, and questioned how hunters would know where the boundary lines are between the city, where shooting is prohibited, and the county.
Elenbaas opposed the shooting zones during the March meeting.
“I would like to point out the only valid reason for a non-shooting zone would be because somebody’s annoyed by the noise of the legal hunting season,” he said, later adding, “Where do we draw the line? Why are the people in Semiahmoo or Blaine so important that they can’t be burdened by some duck hunters?”