Hunting not allowed near hiking trails in Middletown - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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Hunting not allowed near hiking trails in Middletown

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MIDDLETOWN, CT (WFSB) -

Wilcox Woods in Middletown is a popular spot where youngsters ride their bikes, families hike and people even walk their dogs.

However, some residents who live close to Wilcox Woods told Eyewitness News they've seen hunters heading into the forest, even though hunting is not allowed there. 

 "I've heard things that sound like gun shots and I kind of wonder where since it's a residential neighborhood around here," said Chris Rigling, of Middletown.

A canopy of trees covered hiking trails that snake deep into the forest off Footit Drive. That land is owned by the city of Middletown.

When residents said they saw hunters nearby, they brought it to the attention of Eyewitness News to see if the station could get some answers.

"I've walked through there before. It's a pretty area," said Maria Reimer, of Middletown. "I wouldn't want to be hit. It's not a good thing."

According to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, under the terms of the grant, which helped Middletown buy this land, hunting is purely a local decision. That means it's up to the city to determine whether or not hunting is allowed at Wilcox Woods. However, city officials said hunting is not allowed there.

"I assume it's posted. I haven't noticed," Rigling said.

Eyewitness News couldn't find any signs other than ones hanging, which told people not to use motorized vehicles. However, there are no signs about hunting.

Eyewitness News contacted both the Middletown mayor's office and the City Planning and Conservation Department. Eyewitness News never heard back from either but the station did get an answer from the Connecticut Forest and Park Association.

"Hunting is not allowed on any city owned property - including our conservation areas and open space," said Matt Dodge, who is Middletown's environmental planner. "There are, however, private properties around Wilcox in which they do actively target shoot and hunt on."

"There is another neighborhood on the other side where there are kids," Reimer said. "My kids are old enough to cut through, so if hunting is not allowed, they shouldn't be doing it."

Eyewitness News did a little digging and found in the city ordinance that anyone caught hunting or even carrying a firearm in a city park or recreational area could be fined up to $500.

"A lot of families in the neighborhood hike," Rigling said. "That's where we take our dog for runs and stuff. People use it to run and hike, so it's kind of weird."

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