Lawsuit seeks to shoot down Enterprise South Nature Park deer hunt

Lawsuit seeks to shoot down Enterprise South Nature Park deer hunt

October 22nd, 2011 by Kate Harrison Belz in News

Brayton Bird loads his tree stand back into the truck after weighing in a 2 1/2 year old doe that he shot during the TWRA bow hunt at Enterprise South Nature Park.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

POLL: Should deer hunting be allowed at Enterprise South?

As area hunters ready their equipment for another deer hunt at Enterprise South Nature Park on Monday, a Hamilton County woman has filed a lawsuit to stop it.

Joan Farrell filed a lawsuit Friday against the county, Chattanooga and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, asking for a temporary restraining order to keep the TWRA from holding the hunt Monday and Tuesday.

She also requested the court to convert the restraining order to a temporary injunction to stop the hunts until a study is conducted. Farrell wants proof that the population-controlling hunts are ecologically justifiable.

Farrell's complaint says the TWRA has failed to furnish a study that shows what kind of impact the hunts will have on the park's wildlife, and that the agency has not had a "biologist determine how many animals, if any, need to be harvested."

TWRA spokesman Dan Hicks did not return calls Friday evening.

Farrell also charges that Chattanooga and Hamilton County have failed to fulfill contractual obligations with TWRA that would "ensure that the wildlife population is maintained in this public park, and not otherwise destroyed by the failure to obtain impact studies."

Reached Friday evening, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said the county's legal department had notified him of the lawsuit, but that he hadn't reviewed it yet.

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield's spokesman, Richard Beeland, said he could not comment on the pending litigation.

The hunting agreement stipulates that 80 hunters are allowed to use bows and arrows to kill deer. They can bag up to two deer, as long as the first kill is a doe. Each hunter may also bag one turkey.

A series of hunts was held at the park two weeks ago.

In a committee meeting with members of the Hamilton County Commission last week, Farrell fiercely criticized the county's cooperation with the TWRA, which she said is "in bed" with the hunters, according to newspaper archives.

Attorney Diane Dixon, who is listed as one of Farrell's attorneys, has represented what she has described as a loose coalition of about a dozen residents who are against the hunt. In late September, she argued that the park should be a nature preserve with no hunting allowed, archives show.

The lawsuit states that Farrell's lawyers already had contacted the city and county's attorneys to warn them of the call for a restraining order.

"No additional notice should be required in this cause, as it is not practical to have a hearing before Monday's scheduled hunt," the suit reads. "In order to avoid potential irreparable damage to the Plaintiff and the Nature Park, the hunt should be enjoined and only rescheduled after a hearing."

Neither Farrell, Dixon nor Farrell's other attorney, Michael Richardson, returned calls for comment Friday.

Connect with the Times Free Press on Facebook