Fire threat stops target practice, not hunting

Fire threat stops target practice, not hunting »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- The high fire risk continues across Yakima County.
This season we've seen more than 20,000 acres burn in the Taylor Bridge fire and 40,000 in the Table Mountain fire. Just Monday, another wildfire nearly scorched a campground.

The numbers prove what we already know. The fire risk here in Central Washington is high. It's why the Wenas Wildlife area decided not to take any chances.

"When you have a lot of people, that human factor -- anything can happen," said Fish and Wildlife Officer Alan Baird.

He says target shooting will likely be restricted until snowfall.

If caught shooting, the fine is $89. But if you spark a fire, the bill is much bigger. Baird said a man was recently charged $300,000 for starting a five acre fire.

But Action News learned despite the restrictions on target practice, there are no limits for hunters.

While hunting has been temporarily banned in the past, that's not the case this year.

Officer Baird says the sport brings in a lot money. Plus, hunters usually fire fewer bullets than target shooters. Not to mention the enforcement issue.

"How are you going to shut down hunting with basically there's myself and one other officer in all of Yakima County," said Baird.

Neighbors living nearby say while the fire risk is scary, they support the decision.

"That's always an issue that it can happen at anytime from a spark to a cigarette, to a bullet on a rock or whatever," said neighbor Anona Schmeltzer. "It's always a concern."