SYKESVILLE - The interests of fearful residents and frustrated hunters collided Monday night during a discussion on whether to allow deer hunting on state park land bordering the town.
The state Department of Natural Resources is considering opening a portion of Patapsco Valley State Park for hunting, at the request of the Carroll County Sportsman's Association, park manager Walter Brown told the Town Council and about 25 residents and hunters.
The hunters say there is a dearth of public hunting areas in Carroll.
But residents don't want hunting allowed just a few hundred yards from homes.
"I'm concerned about going out my front door and being shot," said College Road resident Mildred Glass.
Residents complained about hunters who now roam illegally on Sykesville-area portions of the 13,301-acre park. The park straddles four counties, with about 2,100 acres in Carroll.
"We already have bullet holes in our new home," said Lynne Schildt, who moved into her College Road home in 1987.
But the hunters argued that establishing managed hunting areas would chase away poachers and lead to safer, more responsible hunting.
"Why let a few bad apples ruin something good and positive?" said club member George Harrison Jr.
A decision should be made by mid-January, said Steven Sholl, assistant director for field operations for DNR's Fish, Parks and Wildlife Service.
Written opinions will be accepted at the department's Annapolis headquarters through Saturday.
The more than 50 responses DNR already has received on the plan have been about evenly divided, Sholl said.
"When you're getting around the metropolitan area, it's not a popular activity," he said. "We're not going to have hunting that would endanger someone else."
Park manager Brown said the idea was in the "elementary stage." No details were offered, such as the length of the hunting season or types of weapons to be allowed -- bows, shotguns, high-powered rifles.
Mayor Lloyd R. Helt Jr. found that irritating and said it was difficult for the council and the residents to comment on such a sketchy proposal.
"We want to see the plan," Helt said. "That's the clearest message we could give here tonight."
That may not happen. State procedure doesn't require another hearing before a decision is made, although Brown said he would do what he could to keep the town and residents informed of developments.
"Safety is right up front," he said.