VIENNA TWP., Ohio (WKBN) – A rally was held Monday to protest the opening of a hunting preserve at the former Candywood Golf Course in Vienna.
Demonstrators carried signs reading, “Senseless Murder for a Trophy” and “Bred for Bullets,” while others showed up in support of the proposed hunting preserve. There were some intense moments as both sides tried to get their point across, and police were called to the area to maintain safety.
The former golf course on Scoville-North Road in Vienna passed multiple requirements from the Ohio Department of Natural Resource’s standpoint, including meeting the requirements for fencing and signage around the area designated as a “licensed hunting preserve.” Approval is pending from the Department of Agriculture.
Holly Justice, of Justice Rallies, is organizing a movement to prevent the hunting preserve from opening, claiming that the practice is barbaric. Justice organized the rally, which began 6 p.m. Monday prior to the Vienna Township Trustees meeting.
“I knew we were going to have a good turnout. Everyone’s really passionate,” she said.
Justice said, in the end, she is upset about the possible financial impact on homeowners.
“Once we got down to more of the nitty-gritty of this, I started to become more aware of the effects, that this is going to affect the neighbors here locally — their safety, their property values, and it just kind of snowballed from there,” she said.
Supporter Mark Thompson said, however, that the preserve will bring more money to the township.
“I want to see this go through 100 percent,” he said. “I think it’s great for the community. I think it’ll bring a lot of other people in here.”
Township trustees gave a statement at their meeting on Monday, saying there is little that they can do to stop the hunting preserve from opening in the township.
“The chief (of the Division of Wildlife with ODNR) must have believed that the preserve would not conflict with a prior public interest, because he issued the permit. We disagree, but we are limited in what we can do,” the statement read.
According to ODNR, there are currently a total of nine licensed, private hunting preserves in Ohio. A hunting preserve is a fenced in area where wild game are released for hunting.
Thompson says people should not be worried.
“Safety is number one. These people don’t understand over here. Everybody that comes to the hunting preserve will have to shoot their gun, prove to the owners of Candywood that they can handle their gun,” he said.