Tucson to allow hunting on public property - Tucson News Now

Tucson to allow hunting on public property

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Hunters have complained that as cities and towns in Arizona have expanded, they've taken away more and more hunting space.

It was a complaint heard by the Arizona state legislature which fixed the problem.

In the past, when a city or town annexed a large swath of land, it became off limits to hunting because it was inside the city limits.

State lawmakers amended the law to allow hunting in city limits. It became the responsibility of Arizona Game and Fish to determine where the hunting would be allowed.

Tucson balked.

It has purchased tens of thousands of acres in Avra Valley over the past half century for water rights.

"Initially, we didn't see that as public land," says Tucson Water Public Information officer Fernando Molina. "But now we feel we have to make them accessible."

It was a two year push back which was solved by patience and compromise.

"They were concerned about safety," says Diane Tilton, a wildlife manager for Arizona Game and Fish. "But we feel this is another set of boots on the ground."

The Tucson Water Department will allow hunting during dove hunting season on two parcels, each about  1500 acres near Three Points.

So far, everything has worked out well.

"We'll continue to monitor it," says Tilton. "I've talked to probably 200 hunters about it."

She says the assessment has been good so far.

It's a pilot program which could lead to more property being opened up next year.

Right now, only shotguns are allowed but if things go well, then rifles and deer hunting may be allowed next year.

The city is concerned because it has millions of dollars in infrastructure in the Avra Valley area.

"Vandalism is a concern," Molina says.

Whether hunters obey the rules this year will determine whether the hunting acreage is expanded next year.

"Hunters take care of the land," says Tilton.

She believes they will help keep the desert clean, report dangerous or illegal activity and report and abuses.

The city has been assured of the same thing.

"They don't want to lose their rights," says Molina.

Copyright 2013 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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