Wide Open Spaces has obtained new information regarding the details of the Marshfield, Massachusetts hunter interference case we first reported on last week.
The outcome of the case could significantly impact hunters rights in the state, and how local law enforcement responds to hunter interference cases.
On Monday, Wide Open Spaces received an anonymous statement from a source close to the investigation, which provided new alleged details of the October 16 confrontation between three duck hunters and a Marshfield family on the Hoyt Hall Preserve around 5:30 a.m. near the family’s residence.
The most significant claims in the source’s statement were that the hunters were acting in accordance with all state hunting laws; that they had cleared their hunt with the Marshfield Police Department the morning of the incident; and that they had not fired any shots prior to police intervention.
Wide Open Spaces spoke with Marshfield Police’s lead investigator on the case earlier this week, who was able to confirm that the hunters did not awake the Carreiro family with gunfire.
These claims are significant because they contrast public statements made by the family’s mother Julie Carreiro, who is not facing criminal charges.
Julie told WBZ-TV in Boston last week that her and her family were awakened by blasts of gunfire.
The source’s statement alleges that one of the family members was already awake and smoking a cigarette when he saw the hunters setting up near the family’s backyard. He, along with three family members, reportedly came out to confront them waving a flashlight while screaming and threatening to kill the hunters if they did not leave.
The lead investigator on the case confirmed that no shots had been fired prior to police arriving at the scene, and that one of the family members was already awake and had seen the hunters setting up on land near their home.
The source’s statement also alleged that the police, after ordering the Carreiros to stand down, gave the hunters permission over the phone to continue hunting.
The lead investigator could not confirm nor deny this detail.
Additional allegations in the source’s statement differed from Julie’s claim that bird shot from the hunters’ guns “rained down on her head”, alleging that police had determined the hunters had not fired anywhere near the direction of the home.
What we are sure of is that the family blew an air horn to scare off ducks away from hunters after being told to stand down, and that three Carreiro family members are facing charges of attempting to commit a crime and hunter interference. Julie is not facing any criminal charges.
Marshfield Police Chief Phil Tavares has turned the case over to a district court to determine if there is probable cause to charge the family.
Why is the Marshfield Hunting Case Significant?
The case is important for two main reasons: Massachusetts has never had a hunter interference conviction, and the court’s decision will likely set a precedent for sportsmen who hunt on land close to residential or public areas.
The court’s determination of whether there was probable cause for criminal charges will help determine the following question: Even if hunters are following the law when hunting near public places or residences, are they allowed to disturb the peace?
The source’s statement claims that the hunters followed every hunting variance law and state law. They say the hunters contacted the preserve’s landowners a year in advance to determine if the land was open to hunting, but did not receive a response. According to state law the land was already legally open to hunters, because it was not marked with “no-hunting” signs.
The land has since been marked with no-trespassing and no-hunting signs.
Additionally, the source says the hunters had followed state hunting laws by shooting 500 feet away from the residence and hunting within the half-hour prior to sunrise regulation.
Controversy Over the Case
Waterfowl hunters in the Marshfield region often use land close to homes and public places because most of the surrounding area is suburban and developed. Residents have complained before about hunters firing close to homes and public areas throughout the region.
If the court rules in favor of the the family member, residents will likely have more leeway to chase hunters off land near their property, thus pushing hunters out of places to hunt.
Alternatively, if the court rules in favor of the hunters, residents and business owners could have a considerably harder time dealing with hunters near their land and changing hunting laws to protect their peace.
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