MARSHFIELD — A Marshfield family is facing possible criminal charges after they tried to chase hunters off land near their home and, failing that, decided to chase off the ducks the hunters were after.
Julie Carreiro said her family awoke to the sound of gunfire at 5 a.m. during October’s duck hunting season, and her husband and son ran outside to find the hunters on conservation land that abuts their property on Careswell Street. Hunting is not permitted on the land, but it had not been posted with “no hunting” signs.
Carreiro, 55, has lived in the home, which sits along a pond and marshland, since 1964, and said they had never seen nor heard hunters until last year.
After the family yelled at the hunters last year and called police — Carreiro claims all police did was tell the hunters not to aim toward the house — the hunters returned again this year, she said. They started firing at the crack of dawn and refused to leave when confronted by her husband and son.
The Marshfield police chief told The Patriot Ledger that the family threatened the hunters with physical harm if they did not leave, and used an air horn to scare away the ducks. Police are now considering charging the family with three counts of hunter interference and two counts of threatening to commit a crime, according to the Ledger. Marshfield police did not return calls from the Globe Wednesday.
“It’s so scary to wake up to gunfire,” Carreiro said, adding that she’s had to medicate her dogs because they are traumatized by the loud noise.
Last year, when Carreiro ran out to confront the hunters, she said, birdshot rained down on her head and she became afraid to go outside.
When the gunfire awoke them this year, Carreiro said, her son ran outside and asked if they were the same hunters as last year. The hunters then taunted them.
“The noise just wouldn’t end,” Carreiro said. “At one point, they weren’t hunting, they were just shooting for no reason except to make noise and make it clear they weren’t leaving.”
She said her family is not against hunting. “We’re against being woken up with gunfire raining down on us and traumatizing us.”
The land in question, which is just over the town line from Duxbury, is known as Hoyt Hall Preserve, a 123-acre parcel that is owned by the Wildlands Trust of Southeastern Massachusetts, according to a town conservation map. After the incident, the land was posted with “no trespassing” signs as well as “no hunting” signs, which actually disappoints Carreiro, who said the pond has long been used by ice skaters in winter and fishermen in canoes in summer.
Amy Mahler, a spokesman for the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said a person can be charged with hunter harassment if they interfere with a person’s legal right to hunt, which includes driving off wildlife.
Sheryll Reichelt, who lives near the Carreiros, said there has been an increase in hunting in the area in recent years, and said many hunters are cutting across private property to get to legal hunting areas.
“If you’re a responsible hunter, you need to know where you’re supposed to be,” Reichelt said. “I have dogs. My neighbors have small children. And we’ve heard shots in our backyard.”
“Now they’re going to go after homeowners for threatening people who have guns right next to their property? That seems ridiculous.”