Lewisville neighbors battle over backyard wild game butchering http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcon...lle/stories/030409dnmetwildgame.209f994b.html 08:26 AM CST on Wednesday, March 4, 2009 By DAVE FLICK / The Dallas Morning News [email protected] LEWISVILLE – Do good hunters make good neighbors? Charlene Hlatky thinks not. For several years, she and her husband, Frank, have been embroiled in a dispute with Santos Garcia, whose backyard on Boxwood Drive abuts theirs on Azalia Drive. Mr. Garcia is a lifelong hunter who has bagged as many as three deer in a season. He typically brings the carcasses back to his house and processes them in his backyard. The Hlatkys then call the police. "We just wish people would respect us like we respect them," Charlene Hlatky said. "We don't go and slaughter a cow on our property where people can see it. Nobody has any consideration anymore." As recently as last week, police – as well as a state game warden and representatives of the city's code enforcement and animal control offices – were summoned to Garcia's modest ranch-style house to investigate a complaint from the Hlatkys that he had beheaded a wild boar in his backyard the previous weekend. No citation was issued. Under the Lewisville city code, hunters can cut up carcasses in their own yard as long as they clean up the mess quickly. "I'm a hunter, and I've been doing this all my life, and I'll keep on doing it," he said. "I'm not doing anything illegal, and it's on my property. I don't care. I'm tired of this." The incident, though rare, is perhaps inevitable in a large metropolitan area in the midst of a state with strong hunting traditions. Especially in new suburbs, rural values can clash with city expectations, said Steve Lightfoot, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department spokesman. "People in urban areas have to understand that it's part of our heritage," he said. "At the same time, we try to urge hunters that it does require a sense of détente when they process meat, that they should be careful not to shock and awe people with different sensibilities." Following the law In Garcia's case, officials say he followed the law. "There were no violations," Eric Ferris, Lewisville's director of community development, said of the most recent complaint. "If someone were cutting up ribs for a barbecue, they wouldn't be in violation of the code. Technically, this is not different than if you're doing something like that." Elsewhere, the rules vary. In Dallas, dismemberment of an animal carcass is illegal. In fashionable University Park, you're free to eviscerate a deer on your front lawn. Not that anyone does. "I've never heard of a problem like that," said Mike Brackin, a University Park code enforcement officer. "You could do it – at least until they changed the ordinance. Anyway, most people who shoot a wild animal take it to Kuby's for processing." But Capt. Neal Bieler of the Fort Worth game warden's office noted that professional butchering can be expensive, which could be an issue to residents in areas less affluent than the Park Cities. "By law, hunters don't have to have the meat processed professionally, and in this economy, we do see more people processing meat at home," he said. There are no statistics to back him up, however, and interviews with state officials and private processors yielded a mixed picture. Several processors said business was up significantly during the most recent deer season, which ended in January. (Wild boars may be killed year-round). But Lightfoot said that the number of kills may simply reflect drier weather, which drives animals into less-protected areas. Texas Hunters for the Hungry, a private program in which hunters donate harvested game to the needy, has seen an increase in inquiries from people who want to know how to receive the free meat, said Anitra Hendricks, the program's coordinator. Using the meat Meanwhile, some processors said more hunters are keeping the meat to feed their families. Garcia – though noting that he was severing the boar's head to use for a trophy – said he keeps his freezer full of wild game for practical reasons. "I don't shoot anything I don't eat," he said. Garcia said that he does not process the animals in a way to attract attention and that there is a privacy fence between the two yards. He said the Hlatkys have videotaped him from their second-story window. "Why doesn't he close his windows? Why doesn't he shut his blinds?" Garcia asked. Charlene Hlatky said it isn't a matter of simply averting their eyes. Once while in her backyard, she said, she picked up what she thought was a stick and discovered it was a deer leg. Furthermore, she said, blood from the butchered animals has seeped into her yard and ruined her grass. But she acknowledged she has not tried to resolve the problem by simply talking to her neighbors, citing an ongoing lack of communication on other issues. Lewisville Mayor Gene Carey said public officials always need to balance competing attitudes when neighbors live so closely together. At the moment, however, he sees no need to change the city ordinance. "This is an unusual situation," he said. "I don't think it comes up all that often." Besides, he said, "I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma. I remember a neighbor hanging a 40-pound catfish in a tree and cleaning it. So I'm used to that." Charlene Hlatky, who notes that she, too, grew up in the country, said the mayor has been typical of officials she's dealt with. "They don't come right out and say it. They say, 'You have to remember you live in a community,' " she said. "But the attitude seems to be, 'If you don't like it, why don't you just move?' " Though her family has lived on Azalia Drive for 20 years, Charlene Hlatky may take their advice. "I don't know what to do anymore," she said. "Sometimes I feel like I just want to walk away from my home." ---- What a cunt.