Landowners, stand with VLA to protect property rights

Published 2:23 pm Friday, January 15, 2016

To the Editor:

When I bought my property in 2008, my land was surveyed. Nowhere in that document was it mentioned that my land could be annexed seven weeks a year by hunting clubs that run their dogs through it.

I have a mere six acres, only two acres are cleared, and I enjoy the four forested acres just the way they are.

I keep a few chickens and guineas: to have eggs for my family and friends, to keep down the bug population (guineas are fabulous tick hunters), to make for more fertile soil and because they are incredibly entertaining. They free range when I am home, as it is safer to have me in and out of the house going about the business of keeping up with my property, and keeping a watchful eye for predators.

On Saturday, Dec. 12, I let them free range. In the early afternoon, I heard the guineas screeching and went to find out what the commotion was about. I saw a larger hunting dog (with antennae and orange collar) with one of my bIack fluffy footed chickens in his mouth running into the forest. I had knee surgery on Nov.25, so I wasn’t quite as speedy as I could have been. I did not get a picture, nor was I able to get my gun. As I further investigated my yard, I found two more mounds of feathers. As the chickens were now scattered through the forest that surrounds the house, I had no idea how many hens I could have lost to a hunting dog attack. I did not find any injured hens. As night fell, and as the chickens came home to roost, I found that four hens were missing.

The next morning, my neighbors on both sides of me called to report that they had injured hens in their yard. I retrieved my favorite chicken Goldie, whose back had a large chunk of feathers and flesh missing. Denise was laying in the other neighbor’s yard on the edge of the forest, unable to move. I ended up having to put Denise down as her wounds became infested with maggots and she was unable to move — I believe her spine was severed. I lost three of my 16 hens to deer dogs that day.

I sought out other landowners who were having problems with deer dogs and found there are numerous issues: trespassing, poultry livestock damage, property destruction and “right to retrieve” are listed among the problems with this “sport.” I have now found myself in alignment with the Virginia Landowners Association (VLA).

Although I wrote the DGIF board members, I have not had a response from them. There is an upcoming DGIF board meeting addressing the deer dog hunting issues that will be held on Jan. 21. I support the protection of lands that are held by private citizens. I support a registration system similar to the Florida system that allows deer dogs and hunting; a system that also has the ability to track infringements and hold hunting clubs responsible for infringements of property rights and property damage. I urge other property owners to help protect their property rights by standing with VLA.

Pamela Derby
Providence Forge