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Couple seeks to close off land to hunters

COEUR D’ALENE — A North Idaho couple is asking the state to prohibit hunting on public land near their home, citing concerns that bullets are being fired too close for comfort.

Bart and Pat Templeman recently sent their request in a letter to the Idaho Department of Lands. The Templemans are retired and live a couple hundred yards from nearly 500 acres of state endowment land in Coeur d’Alene. Hunting is allowed on all state endowment land.

“You become a prisoner of your own home during hunting season,” Pat Templeman told the Coeur d’Alene Press.

The Templemans said they want the state to prohibit hunting on the property before they or their neighbors are victims of a bad shot.

A couple years ago, Bart Templeman said, a bullet struck their barn while he was inside working to insulate the building. And several days ago, his wife said, she came across a hunter who had shot a deer on neighboring private property.

Their neighbor, Christy Blazin, said she would also like to see hunters barred from the property near her home.

“We’re not against hunting, but we just feel there’s plenty of places for people to hunt that are not close to residential neighborhoods,” Blazin said.

Another neighbor, Mike Hickle, said he is also concerned but does not want to close off the public land. Hickle, who is a hunter himself, said he would rather see more patrols from the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department and Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

“I’m not really a big advocate of closing off more state lands,” he said “That’s the property of the citizens of Idaho. They should have access to use it reasonably.”

However, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has a dozen officers covering five North Idaho counties and cannot afford to increase patrols there, said regional conservation officer Craig Walker. Property owners should place signs on their properties to discourage hunting access, he said.

Officials with the state Department of Lands have briefly discussed the concerns raised by the Templemans but no immediate action has been planned for this hunting season, said Roger Jansson, who is operations chief for the agency’s northern Idaho offices

“We do want to research this, see if we can come up with options,” Jansson said.

The state would prefer to leave the area open to hunting, he added.

“It is the policy to keep it open,” Jansson said.

Idaho Department of Lands area manager Mike Denney lives by the state endowment land and acknowledged that hunting is popular there, though he said he hasn’t heard many complaints. Denney said he is aware of other areas where bullets have strayed from state land to private property.

“That’s a concern I think is legitimate on any public lands at an open interface with homes close by,” he said.