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Effort underway to prevent return of dog hunting in Franklin County

A concentrated effort to prevent the return of dog deer hunting in Franklin County is being made by the Alabama Sportsman's and Landowner's Council (ASLC).

The Franklin Free Press received a copy of a letter mailed to all ASLC members in Franklin and Lauderdale Counties notifying them of “a concerted effort being made to restore deer hunting with dogs in Franklin and Lauderdale Counties.”

The November 18, 2017, letter is signed by Sybil Deschaines with the ASLC. She urges members to contact the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to state their objections to any possible return of dog deer hunting.

If Franklin County is rescinded, other counties will fall,” the letter reads.

Dog deer hunting was banned in Franklin County prior to the 2003 hunting season by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Board. Franklin is one of 13 Alabama counties not to have dog seasons at all for antlered bucks.

Norris Duncan, an ASLC member, owns more than 400 acres in Franklin County. Duncan says he's had negative experiences with dog hunters and he's opposed to any proposed reinstatement of the law.

I've had a lot of problems with it before and hope it doesn't come back. Not all of them, but a lot of dog hunters, are overbearing about it,” Duncan said. “I remember seeing a man in the highway near my house who let his dogs loose on my land and stood there waiting for the deer to come out.”

The letter encourages members to contact the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Board to state their objections. Additionally, members are encouraged to contact their local legislative delegation.

Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow (D-Red Bay), said he has not been contacted by any residents or members of the Alabama Dog Hunters Association about any movement to return dog deer hunting to Franklin County.

The letter did not include details of any specific coordinated effort to restore dog deer hunting to Franklin County. It describes an “effort to rescind all bans and permit systems in place in Alabama.”

The Alabama Sportsman's and Landowner's Council, Inc., was organized in 1996 and has representation in 65 of Alabama's 67 counties.

The organization's goal is “to promote hunting as a recreational sport while encouraging ethical hunting, sound game management practices, protection of landowner's rights, promotion of hunter safety and above all—respect for the rights of everyone who enjoys Alabama's great environment,” according to the group's website, www.afoa.org.

Lonnie Miller is the president of the Alabama Dog Hunters Association, a 1500-member association with membership in 17 counties. Miller's organization is working to improve the reputation of dog hunters in Alabama and his association's efforts have resulted in fewer dog hunting incidents across the state.

Miller said he's not aware of any effort to reinstate dog hunting in Franklin County and he doesn't think the political climate is ripe for expanding the sport at this time.

We have a lot of counties who would like to have dog hunting open but I'm not aware of a concerted, organized effort and for sure, there's not one on our part in Franklin County,” Miller said. “We do the best we can to hold on to what we've got. I'd love to see the whole state open up.”

Miller said his association has a positive working relationship with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Board, but he believes there is “no way” the DCNR folks will open up anything at this point.

People in the 80s and 90s did things dog hunting they shouldn't have been doing. There has been a big change, though. We've made a drastic difference in the last year with the number of complaints,” Miller said.

If we have a good year this year like last year, we anticipate something may happen but honestly we're not expecting any county to open up for a while,” he added.

There have been problems in the past. If people would keep their dogs on their property it wouldn't be an issue. But political pressure is what stopped dog hunting,” Miller said.

The Alabama Dog Hunters Association has approved the dog hunter's 10 Commandments. They include always getting written permission from all landowners before hunting, recognizing the rights of other legal hunters and their legal hunting methods and not hunting from cars or on public roadways or holding public grouping on public road right-of-ways.

For more information on the organization, log onto www.alabamadoghuntersassociation.com.

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