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Fears allayed on 'sneakboating' bill

March 13, 1997

By GUY FLETCHER

Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS - With its most controversial element removed, legislation to broaden sneakboating in Washington County faced no opposition during a House of Delegates hearing Wednesday.

The bill, sponsored by Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, (H.B. 1333) was amended to remove Antietam Creek as a possible sneakboating location - a move intended to quiet the fears of people who didn't want hunting to be allowed near homes along the creek.

Sneakboating involves the use of an unpowered, often camouflaged boat for hunting waterfowl. The boat drifts like a moving duck blind, allowing a hunter to sneak up on ducks and geese.

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"I had originally planned to have a live demonstration on the Severn River, but I know time will not permit that," McKee jokingly told the House Environmental Matters Committee.

Sneakboating in Western Maryland now is restricted to the Potomac and Monocacy rivers.

McKee, at the request of local sports enthusiasts, submitted a bill to widen the practice to the Antietam and Conococheague creeks. He showed the committee petitions containing dozens of signatures in support of the legislation.

But the bill also prompted numerous complaints, mainly from people who live near Antietam Creek. In response, McKee amended the bill to include only the Conococheague Creek.

Mike Kefauver, whose house is near Antietam Creek near Keedsyville, applauded the move.

"It's pretty satisfying to see that the system did work in our favor," said Kefauver, who traveled to Annapolis for the hearing.

McKee said the concerns are "perception more than reality," because the state doesn't permit hunting within 150 yards of occupied dwellings, reducing the chance of someone accidentally being shot by a sneakboater.

Joshua L. Sandt, director of the Department of Natural Resource's Wildlife Division, testified in support of the legislation.

"We have had, from my knowledge, very few complaints from the people who live near the Potomac and Monocacy (rivers) because of sneakboating," Sandt said.

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