Haverhill Hopes to Establish Committee to Promote Safe Hunting—Not Ban It

Maria Zangari spoke at a Jan. 23, 2019 Public Safety subcommittee meeting in Haverhill. (WHAV News photograph)

A City Council subcommittee plans to petition Mayor James J. Fiorentini to convene a group to oversee proper hunting in Haverhill to address concerns like those raised by resident Maria Zangari. (WHAV News photograph)

The City of Haverhill isn’t going to ban hunting any time soon, but has vowed to take precautions to make neighbors feel safe in their own backyards.

Haverhill’s City Council first took up the issue of illegal hunting at its Oct. 30 meeting, with Atlanta Street resident Maria Zangari imploring the Council to take action after she said shotgun pellets from hunters hit her home and landed in her backyard. On Wednesday night, representatives from the Public Safety subcommittee let Zangari know her voice was heard, recommending that Mayor James J. Fiorentini form an advisory council to oversee proper zoning and hunting protocol citywide.

“What I’m asking from you tonight is to show us and prove to us that you believe that the most important issue here is the safety of the residents you represent,” Zangari said Wednesday.

Subcommittee chairman Michael S. McGonagle was quick to point out the gathering wasn’t an effort to “ban hunting in Haverhill or bash neighbors,” but rather a “working meeting” to strategize the best way to address concerns like those raised by Zangari.

Realizing Haverhill Police are stretched thin, Councilor Melinda E. Barrett suggested putting an officer in a dual role—similar to a school resource officer—allowing that person to assist with hunting-related law enforcement during peak seasons. In her pitch, Barrett said she understood a select few hunters seem to give others a bad name.

“Ninety-nine percent of people hunting—or doing anything—are doing it the right way, but there are some yo-yos out there who might not be,” said Barrett, who motioned to ask Fiorentini to convene a group of neighbors, hunters and members of law enforcement.

Sharon Netzley of the Haverhill Hound, Rod, and Gun Club said her group would work with city officials to educate the community on proper protocols and install signage where appropriate. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which owns the 19-acre parcel along Little River Zangari spoke about, has also taken steps to protect neighbors. In December, the MBTA added transit police patrols and signage to deter illegal hunting in the residential area east of Hilldale Avenue and south of Route 495.

Massachusetts state law prohibits the possession “of a loaded firearm or hunt by any means on the land of another within 500 feet of any dwelling.”