City bans bow hunting for grass carp in waterways

State had allowed harvesting of weed-eating fish

With the spring lake fishing season about to bring scores of anglers headed to Duck Lake over the next few months, the Ocean Shores City Council has moved to protect the distinctive grass carp that were once purchased to control weeds in the city’s fresh waterways.

The council on March 27 voted unanimously to ban the bow-hunting of the carp, which was an activity sanctioned by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The council enacted an ordinance that said the city and citizens originally “purchased grass carp to be planted in their fresh waterways as a deterrent to the growth of elodea and other weeds which grow rampant in the waterways and (pose a) hazard to public recreation.”

The state, in allowing bow hunting for the large carp, “no longer believes that grass carp provide benefits to the weed-free fresh waterways,” the ordinance adds. But several members of the city’s fresh waterways board and non-profit corporation countered that claim and contend the carp still provide valuable benefits to the Ocean Shores waters.

“Grass Carp were purchased specifically to control weeds and bow hunting would then be decreasing the very asset that we purchased,” said Councilwoman Lisa Griebel, who introduced the ban language and moved to pass it on the first reading. “Bow hunting on the waterways could be dangerous to people and animals, and properties, particularly in the narrow waterways.”

Griebel said the prohibition would have a “minimal impact on visitors coming to Ocean Shores just to bow hunt, and a maximum impact to all of the people living on the waterways, or even using the waterways whether they are residents or visitors.”

Bruce Malloy, president of the Fresh Waterways Corp., reminded the council that citizens once purchased the carp in an “adopt a grass carp” program.

“Technically, these fish in my opinion belong to the residents of Ocean Shores,” he said, urging the ban on bow-hunting be passed.

“We have three or four tools that we utilize to control the weeds, and we believe the grass carp are one of those tools,” Malloy said.

Ernie Nelson, who has long worked in the canals and waterways to remove weeds and debris, noted the arrows are sharp and pose a danger if they are not retrieved. Susan Conniry added that the issue took on more public concern last summer when an arrow was found in the lake. She asked how the public would be notified of the new policy.

Mayor Crystal Dingler pointed out the city had objected to the state’s policy of sanctioning bow hunting when it was first proposed.

“So we ended up with it whether we wanted it or not,” Dingler said, agreeing with the bow-hunting ban. “I personally fully support not having this done to me. It’s like shooting cows in a field.”

“People feel strongly about these carp. They only have a few years left that they are going to serve us.”