PARDEEVILLE (WKOW) -- Many residents in a Pardeeville area subdivision have signed a petition, and are urging state and local officials to consider banning the use of a nearby wildlife area as a makeshift shooting range.
Tom Lichtfeld lives in a home in the Apple Valley subdivision in the Town of Pacific, about a half mile away from the Swan Lake State Wildlife Area, as does Phil Manthey.
Manthey says bullets fired from target shooters at the wildlife area have flown overhead when he's been in his backyard. Lichtfeld says one 9-millimeter round hit within feet of him, as he worked on a car.
Target shooting on state land in Columbia and fifty-three of Wisconsin's seventy-two counties is legal. But Town of Pacific Chairman Bill Devine is urging that Columbia County be added to the eighteen counties with bans. Devine says private ranges with low user fees are available in the area of Swan Lake, and says Department of Natural Resources officials also plan a public shooting range near Mud Lake.
No DNR official has been available to comment to 27 News on the situation at Swan Lake.
Target shooter John Gray of Portage uses the makeshift range at Swan Lake State Wildlife Area, and says he and most other target shooters have been safe. Gray says he's a member of the Portage Rod and Gun Club, but says the flexibility to create a range at the Swan Lake property allows for different shooting experiences, such as defensive, close range practice.
The range is near a wildlife area parking lot off a county highway, and earth berms serve as a backstop behind targets. But a sign warning of the nearby homes is riddled with bullet holes, and shell casings and other debris include a television set used as a target.
Manthey says target shooting at the wildlife area has evolved into a daily event. Devine says people have used car and truck lights to illuminate the berm area and even shoot at night.
Devine says the petition submitted to the town contained more than two hundred signatures.
Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Vern Gove says he hopes the planned, Mud Lake public range will diminish interest in the Swan Lake site.
"What's happening to the bullets going out (of) there, how far do they travel?" says Manthey, a retired member of the Wisconsin State Patrol.
"Is somebody going to get hurt? It's worrisome."
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