FERNBRIDGE – Dairy farmers in Ferndale continue to seek solutions to irresponsible target shooting along the Eel River.
“No one wants bullets flying over their head when they go to work,” Cahill Dairy Manager Zach Cahill said.
Zach and Chris Cahill run the Cahill Dairy in Ferndale. The father and son and their seven employees care for 450 dairy cows that produce about 20,000 gallons of milk a day.
It’s hard work. Zach is often on the job when the sun comes up. But that work is made more difficult by irresponsible target shooters almost a mile away.
Cahill said, “For years we’ve had bullets flying over our heads. You kind of look around and think ‘let’s get out of here.'”
The river bar is littered with evidence of target practice. Locals use everything from clay targets to metal cans to water bottles lined up on the hillside.
“It may look like if you put a target up on the bank it may look like it’s a perfectly good thing but that’s only an 8’ bank and if you fly over that bank, it goes another mile,” Humboldt County District 1 Supervisor Rex Bohn said.
Bohn added that barriers intended to keep vehicles off the river bar haven’t solved the problem. “The barriers have helped a little bit but it’s just pushed them down closer to other farmers,” Bohn said. “We’re playing whack a mole with it.”
Dairy farmers and Supervisor Bohn stress the need for safe areas to target shoot but just ask people to be aware.
“I know that if people knew they wouldn’t shoot,” Cahill said.
Bohn asked, “if this was your backyard what would you want them to do?”
Now Supervisor Bohn is working with the sheriff’s office to increase enforcement. “As we move forward I met with the Sheriff today and he’s about halfway through a shooting ordinance and we have to give him something he can enforce. But before we do that we have to tell people this is where you can shoot and this is where you can’t. We don’t want to take away people’s rights to shoot.”
The closest gun range to Fernbridge is five minutes away at the Eel River Trap Club in Fortuna.