Shots heard ’round Ocean Pearl fired by duck hunters
When Leslie Hunt first heard the popping sounds in December, she wasn’t sure what it was or where it was coming from.
“I was in my house with the doors and windows closed,” she said, “so I thought it was ice cubes dropping from the freezer in my refrigerator.”
Then, shortly before Christmas, she learned her Ocean Pearl neighbors were hearing the same noises, particularly in the late afternoon – and, to them, it sounded like gunshots.
Turns out, the disturbing sounds were shotgun blasts.
After Hunt called the police, Indian River Shores Public Safety Director Richard Rosell, who said his department received “a bunch of complaints” about the gunshots in January, conducted an investigation.
Using his personal boat to take several trips over to Pine Island – located in the Indian River Lagoon, immediately west of the town’s northern tier – Rosell found duck hunters shooting legally on county-owned property.
“There’s a part of the island that’s within the town limits, and we have an ordinance making it illegal to discharge a firearm in the town, but they were on the county side of the island, where hunting is legal,” Rosell said.
“I saw four or five separate flocks of ducks landing where these guys were set up, so they seemed to know what they were doing,” he added. “The only time I caught them near the Shores area was when there was a west wind and they moved more to the east side of the island.
“It got pretty loud then.”
Rosell said the hunters are too far from the town’s residential areas for their shotgun pellets to pose any danger, though he understands the concern.
“I know it can sound like they’re right next door, but gunshots sound louder when they travel over water,” he explained. “There’s nothing to worry about.”
The most recent duck season began Dec. 10 and ended Sunday, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Both the FWC and the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office reported receiving complaints from people about the gunfire on Pine Island.
Hunt, who moved to Indian River Shores two years ago, said she called police because she didn’t know about the duck hunters. She said she heard the shots in the early morning and late afternoon.
“Sometimes it was just two or three shots, and sometimes there were a lot of them,” Hunt said. “I didn’t know what it was. My house backs up to a preserve that goes to Jungle Trail. I called the police because I was concerned.
“The police said the hunters out there know the rules and their shots can’t reach this far, but I’m afraid to walk in my backyard,” she added. “I’m flabbergasted that they’d allow shooting so close to a residential neighborhood.”