Sheriff’s Office outlines laws on hunting, trespassing
As hunting season approaches, Jeff Roux is already hearing gunfire almost daily in the rustic community of Ama.“The people firing weapons don’t know the specifics of the applicable parish ordinance,” Roux said. “The same applies to other rules such as open fires and fireworks.”
Roux, like his neighbors, just wants others to follow the rules. But the problem is becoming more disconcerting.
A retired military veteran with 24 years in the service and a tour of duty in Vietnam as a base defense advisor, he knows how close the problem is to their community.
“For several years now the gunfire has been from semi automatic weapons and basically for checking out a weapon and not for hunting,” Roux said. “Firing a shoulder launched anti-tank weapon is fun in a controlled situation, but this high power discharge of the weapons now is not appropriate in this flat country with distance restrictions on residential property.”
Roux and his neighbors say they want to feel safe on their own land, which gets harder to do when they see increasing issues with people arriving armed on four-wheelers and with the attitude that they will continue coming there to hunt like their father and grandfather before them.
Neighbor Pyramid “Perry” Sellers confirmed the problem.
“You can actually see the people armed,” Sellers said. “I just think people need to be aware they need to go somewhere else.”
Hearing gunfire nearby is unnerving, which she described as a problem for a person who enjoys the outdoors as she does on her property. Although her cats, Pizzazz and Curiosity, haven’t been harmed, she also worries about them.
“It happens periodically,” she said of hearing gunfire. “You can be sitting on your porch or cutting the grass and all of a sudden you hear these shots ring out.”
The St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed receiving an estimated 12 calls since January 2015 related to sounds of possible gunshots in Ama, said spokesman Lt. James Grimaldi. Of that total, Grimaldi said three of them came from people who observed someone going into wooded areas to hunt.
Roux said these concerns also extend to the nearby Ama Airport.
“In the past, calls to 911 have been made and responded to,” he said. “The sheriff even had a video made and put on the parish cable channel. There is basically no area of the airport property where rifles can be fired and limited for a shotgun (which is not being fired now).
“The gun owners need to use an authorized range and hunters follow the rules.”
The Bonnet Carre’ Spillway, Lake Salvador Management Area and Timken Management Area are public hunting areas in St. Charles Parish.
“If you are not in one of these areas, odds are you are on private property and are trespassing,” he said.
Hunters on private property in the parish should be aware of their surroundings due to there not being many wooded areas in the parish that are far enough from residential neighborhoods for people to legally discharge a firearm for recreation, Grimaldi said.
Overall, trespassing is defined as unauthorized and intentional entry on land or non-navigable water, posted or not, without first getting approval by the owner or lessee of the land or non-navigable water. The fine is $50 to $100 and/or imprisonment in parish jail for up to 90 days or both on the first offense.
On weapons, Grimaldi said it is illegal to discharge a rifle, pistol or pellet gun within 2,000 feet of any residence or to discharge a shotgun within 800 feet of any residence unless fired in defense of life or property.
It is also illegal to discharge a firearm in District 5 – St. Rose between River Road and Airline Highway, and Crespo Lane and the parish-Jefferson Parish line. It’s also illegal to do this within 1,500 feet of the Ama Pump Station.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries at wlf.louisiana.gov also outlines laws related to hunting.