Hunters speak out at Metroparks meeting

Sep. 15—SAYBROOK — A number of hunters spoke at a Ashtabula County Metroparks board meeting on Wednesday night, asking the board to allow hunting on more of the organization 's properties.

Sonny Heinonen, of Conneaut, had concerns about Metroparks policies.

"There is little or no transparency with your land acquisitions, your restrictions enforced are not justified, limiting permits to a select few, you have an enforcement officer alienating visitors as well as hunters," he said.

Heinonen said the Metroparks are limiting applicants to one property for hunting.

According to the Metroparks website, hunters are only allowed to request a permit to hunt on one of eight properties.

"In my opinion, you're land-grabbing prime properties that we used to have access to," he said.

Jack Polchosky said hunters police themselves.

"If I go to an area and there's a dozen cars there, I'm not going in there, I'm going somewhere else," he said. "So I don't really think that you guys need to have that type of approach on those parcels of land. You can still give out permission slips, maybe you don't need to do the restrictions."

Polchosky said applying for permission to hunt on Metroparks property, which was done online, was difficult.

"You have people in the outer areas of Ashtabula County who cannot and do not have access to the internet," he said.

Polchosky said it took him multiple attempts to get his permit application submitted.

Heinonen said the majority of hunters are very conscientious about safety.

Board member Paul Carpenter suggested hosting a work session to discuss the issue.

"I'm a hunter, [Metroparks Operations Manager Brett Bellas is] a hunter," Carpenter said. "We'll schedule a work session with you guys, friendly, and we'll sit down and try to iron it out."

After the meeting, Board President Marie Lane said the board is working to schedule that work session.

Also at the meeting, the board accepted the resignation of Administrator Antoinette Swegheimer, and appointed Bellas as the interim administrator, Lane said.