"Matter of time" until a hiker got shot


August 6, 2008, 10:47 PM
If this sad story is already up, a mod can remove or combine it with another thread.

When something like this happens, I believe it behooves responsible hunters and shooters to find constructive ways to assure the public that these tragedies are preventable and must not happen again. We don't want anti-gun voices using this to ban firearms from parks and restrict hunting more than it already is.

Are there any answers? Or is this just a senseless tragedy with no solution that is likely to occur again?

"Matter of time" until a hiker got shot
By Christine Clarridge

Seattle Times staff reporter

With the way hikers and hunters share the same backwoods and the same trails, it was only a matter of time before an accident like the one last weekend that killed a 54-year-old woman mistaken for a bear by a 14-year-old boy, Snohomish County sheriff's Deputy Greg Rasar said Tuesday.

Rasar has been the county's forest-protection officer for nearly 18 years and a law-enforcement officer for almost 30.

In that time, he's seen a lot of dangerous behavior and a lot of close calls. He's written tickets, issued citations and given scores of lectures.

"We have tried all different kinds of ideas to educate people," he said, "but none of them were idiot-proof or bulletproof ... it was just a matter of time until somebody was accidentally shot."

The state lacks "simple and plain" guidelines and regulations that apply to national forests and could make the trails and woods safer for all, he said.

Rasar said many state prohibitions on firearms don't apply to hunters and that stricter regulations and setbacks from campgrounds, trailheads and other populated areas could be useful.

"It would help if there were a tool that law enforcement could use on irresponsible shooters so that when we get complaints we could actually do something instead of saying, 'Sorry, what they're doing is perfectly legal,' " Rasar said.

He said that while the state does have a statute that makes it illegal to recklessly discharge a firearm alongside or across a public highway, it's hard to enforce.

"It's very, very hard for us to prove negligence or recklessness unless somebody sees someone shooting in the road."

Many hikers, he said, are unaware that hunting is legal on most of the state's public lands and do not pay attention to hunting-season dates.

Pamela Almli, an experienced hiker from Oso, Snohomish County, who was aware of hunting seasons, was killed Saturday on a marked hiking trail on Sauk Mountain, Skagit County. She was shot from about 120 yards by a 14-year-old who told police he thought she was a bear.

The boy and his 16-year-old brother had been dropped off at the mountain by their grandfather.

Prosecutors will review the case, but no charges have been filed. Investigators with the Skagit County Sheriff's Department have not released their incident report. They said it is legal in this state for a 14-year-old who has been licensed and has taken a hunter-education class to hunt without adult supervision.

On Tuesday, members of the online group Hunting Washington were upset over the accident, which they said gave true sportspeople and legitimate hunters a bad name.

"Those kids should have been supervised," said member Scott Green. "Even a sharp and safe kid should be supervised."

Green said the shooter broke a cardinal rule of hunting: He failed to positively identify his target with binoculars before firing.

"We do not condone or accept the actions taken by this person and feel that we, as a community, must take a stand against such blatant disregard for safety of those we share the woods with," wrote Green in an e-mail statement Tuesday.

The group would likely oppose additional hunting regulations, but has started a memorial fund to promote educational awareness and outreach programs in Almli's honor, Green said.

"There are already regulations on the books and there are so many hiking trails that there is no way you could do a setback from them," Green said.

Rasar said Forest Service personnel don't like to make judgments about what kind of recreational uses is acceptable. The land is there for people to enjoy and use and protect, he said. He said he's not sure there is a perfect solution.

"The fact is that a lot of people hike and a lot of people are out there shooting, too. Sooner or later, they cross paths and a tragedy can happen," he said. "This is one that's going to haunt people on both sides for a long time."

Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or cclarridge@seattletimes.com

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August 6, 2008, 10:53 PM
I believe this has come up here (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=382597), but was closed because

As is common with multi-page threads, this one has descended into contentiousness and personal insult.

End of thread.

If some sort of "true facts" come from the investigation, somebody feel free to start an update.


Larry Ashcraft
August 6, 2008, 11:19 PM
Closed as duplicate. Looks like it's already been hashed over in Hunting.

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