January 12, 2009

Hunting buffer zone just isn't big enough

The Baltimore Sun's editorial "A missed volley" (Jan. 7) and Candus Thomson's column ("Newest Howard County hunting bill misses the target - by a long shot," Jan. 4) criticizing a proposal to change hunting law after the near-tragedy at a Howard County day care center that was struck by a hunter's gunshot fail to consider the real issue.

The safety of people in areas where deer hunting is conducted is at serious risk because of our inadequate laws.

The current law requires a hunter to be at least 150 yards from buildings on adjacent properties. But 12-gauge shotguns loaded with the pumpkin-ball shot authorized for use in many counties has a much greater range.

In the Howard County incident, the hunter was 275 yards away from the day care center, and it was very fortunate that none of the children at the center was injured or killed.

We need to enact an effective, enforceable law that provides a single safety zone based on the maximum range of allowed weapons.

And the range required must be from the hunter to the edge of adjacent properties - not to a home or building.

If the buffer zone is measured to the home or building, as it is under current law, children playing in their own yard could be in great danger.

Marvin Tenberg, Cockeysville

The writer is vice president of Animal Action Inc.

Md. must put teeth in fishing regulations

Another outrageous violation of our fishing laws has occurred ("Illegal fishing charged; tons of rockfish seized," Jan. 7). And this kind of thing will continue to happen as long as state laws allow commercial fisherman to catch 3 tons of illegal rockfish and only have to pay a maximum fine of $250 or $500 if they go to court.

This kind of thing has been going on years, often by the same repeat offenders. The commercial oystermen do it, the commercial crabbers do it, the commercial fishermen do it and yes, so do recreational boaters.

When are the state and our elected officials going to put some bite into these fishing laws?

The fines levied for such violations should be in the thousands, not $250. The boats, equipment, etc., of the fishermen should all be confiscated and sold at public auction. Only then will these illegal catches slow down.

When you allow these lawbreakers to make a profit by levying such low fines, why should they stop?

John Schlaffer, Pikesville

Clearly the laws regarding illegal commercial fishing in Maryland waters have no teeth. The potential profit from 3 tons of stripped bass is worth the risk of a mere $250 to $500 maximum fine.

Our representatives in Annapolis need to enact punishments for such actions that will 1) protect the natural resources and 2) put the likes of Colbourne Seafood Inc. out of business for good if they break the laws.

Charles Williams, Laurel

'Concierge' health care adds to peace of mind

As a patient in a retainer-fee medical practice, I would like to say that I am completely satisfied with the quality of care I receive ("In defense of so-called concierge medicine," Dec. 29).

I am a senior on a modest income, but I consider my health a priority and am willing to pay a fee for personalized care from a doctor who knows me well.

And there is much peace of mind in knowing that I can call at any time and quickly get the professional advice I need.

Ruth M. Pyle, White Hall

Nation of immigrants can't close its doors

The writer of the letter "'Path to citizenship' undermines our laws" (Jan. 8) misses a significant point.

This country has long benefited from immigration. We are, in fact, a nation of immigrants.

German immigrants in the 18th century, Irish immigrants in the 19th century and Poles, Italians, Greeks and Russian Jews in the early 20th century have all made this country greater.

Why would the letter writer deny today's immigrants the same opportunity?

If I had a choice between the letter writer's xenophobia and the proposition of letting in "anyone who wants to come to America," I would say to immigrants, "Welcome to America and thank you for coming."

Gary Ambridge, Bel Air

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