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Goose hunting season finds its way into Meridian subdivision

Hunters are firing off guns just yards away from some Meridian homes, landing unwelcome rewards in people's property.

Hunters are shooting geese out in the suburbs on the Meridian border and recently, it's cause for concern.

It's a tale as old as time as cities in once rural Idaho get built out. But is hunting right near homes and development legal?

Nearby residents - who live in Meridian city limits - tell KTVB hunters have been shooting geese out on an expansive field next to their homes on Chinden Boulevard and Linder Road for years without any issues. But recently,they say shotgun pellets have been peppering people's roofs and geese have been landing in yards in the Paramount subdivision in the City of Meridian, including in the front yard of the Badigians.

"They need to post 'no shooting' signs, especially around neighborhoods. That's dangerous," one neighbor, Barbara Badigian, said. "I was in the kitchen and just having a cup of coffee then all the sudden there's this big explosion and my husband... it shook the house."

Come to find out, it wasn't an explosion. It was a dead goose that crashed onto her house and toppled into her yard. The goose was shot by hunters in the field right across the fence near the Badigians' house, police confirmed.

"It's more and more this year than I've heard in the past few years," Badigian added. "Absolutely concerning because if this had happened and that goose hadn't hit on my roof, hit a child, hit an adult, they wouldn't be here. That's too close to neighborhoods."

"We've heard it most mornings in the month of January this year and I don't remember it being that frequent in years past," another neighbor, Ryan Cleaver, said.

Every winter for goose hunting season, people take to the soon-to-be-developed plot on Linder Road and Highway 20-26, or Chinden Boulevard.

MORE: Meridian City Council sends Linder Village development plan back to P&Z

"Way over there. Not this close," Badigian said as she motioned to the field. "I've never seen it hit anything."

But the Badigians aren't the only ones: Dead geese and shot gun pellet debris landed in other people's property in Meridian's largest subdivision over the last few days.

"There's been enough complaints in the neighborhood that they could be nice neighbors and just go find another place. There's plenty of other hunting around Idaho that they don't need to do it next to a busy road and a neighborhood," Cleaver added.

Meridian police were called out to Paramount on Friday morning.

The department recognizes the shooting is happening very close to development.

"Our officers responded out, talked with hunters, explained to them be careful where they're shooting, what they're aiming at, those types of things. Gave them a warning. Sent them on their way," Meridian Police Department Deputy Chief Tracy Basterrechea said

Just a warning because what they're doing isn't illegal. KTVB found out this private land on the border of Eagle and Meridian is in unincorporated Ada County, meaning:

"In an unincorporated area... it is not illegal to hunt on that property. And that's something we've dealt with over the years with the growth of Meridian is we deal with those calls quite a bit," Basterrechea added. ""Wherever there's development going on there's still a lot of county land, still a lot of farm land, we'll get those calls."

Basterrechea says as long as what they are doing isn't completely reckless or dangerous, they are free to hunt on that property.

"This is the first time that something like that has happened. Certainly we're concerned when there's firearms around any dwellings," he added. "That isn't really a safety issue; it would really be directly shooting at something or somebody."

It's hard to tell if hunters were aiming toward houses, however.

"The guns they're using have such a short range, I don't see [injuring people] as a problem," Cleaver said.

Idaho Fish and Game pointed KTVB to the criminal trespass statute, which defines "entering" without permission as "going upon or over real property either in person or by causing any object, substance or force to go upon or over real property."

Fish and Game also says there's no required distance you have to be away from a building or house. But common sense would tell you otherwise.

"Really pick your area where you're hunting. When it's surrounded by property and businesses, common sense says you probably oughtta go hunt somewhere else," Basterrechea said.

The Ada County Sheriff's Office says it would be an issue if guns were fired recklessly or ammunition passed into a city like Meridian, where you can't shoot a firearm unless for self defense or unless a law enforcement officer is using it in their course of work.

We should also note: Friday was the last day of Canada goose hunting season in this region.

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