A man who went bow hunting at Zorinsky Lake — and took down three deer — exposed a loophole in Omaha’s city code, city officials say.
Someone turned in Steven Greise and his friend to authorities after he posted a picture of the deer on Facebook.
Even though Omaha has an ordinance that was intended to ban hunting in city parks, prosecutors decided that the ordinance largely didn’t ban his actions.
Now, Omaha City Council members are considering an ordinance that would state explicitly that hunting is illegal in city parks. The city also is set to install “no hunting” signs in parks.
“Here’s the bottom line: The parks are not for hunting,” said interim city prosecutor Tom Mumgaard. “We thought that was pretty clear, and this incident pointed out that maybe it wasn’t as clear as it needed to be.”
Greise, who lives in Plattsmouth, set out to nab a deer early in October 2014 at the park west of 180th Street.
He believed that he was hunting on land where it was legal, said his lawyer, Mickey Meckna.
But actually, the land is part of Omaha’s parks system.
The man, now 31, had set up a tree stand, trail camera and deer bait.
“You would have thought he was hunting on his own farm,” said City Parks Director Brook Bench.
The man posted a picture on Facebook of the buck and two does.
But a Facebook friend — possibly now former friend, Meckna said — turned him in to the authorities.
City prosecutors charged the man with nine misdemeanors, including violating deer regulations and unlawful possession of game.
But they dropped seven charges as part of a plea deal.
The man pleaded no contest to firing a non-explosive projectile and littering with deer bait. He received $1,000 in fines.
“There were some legal problems with enforcing the ordinance as written,” Mumgaard said.
Meckna noted that there were no signs marking that hunting was prohibited. The man had found a map on the Internet that said the land was not part of the City of Omaha.
“You wouldn’t know that it’s a city park because it’s not marked,” Meckna said.
Councilman Garry Gernandt said he heard about the matter from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
“I’m trying to close a gap that was brought to my attention,” Gernandt said.
The proposed ordinance says that it is unlawful to hunt or trap any animal in a city park.
It also says that if someone wants to bring a bow to a park, the person must not string the bow and it must be kept in a closed container or car trunk.
Craig Stover, the head of law enforcement at the Game and Parks Commission, said he considers the ordinance a local matter.
“We just hope any change they might make would not lead to any unintended consequences and that it be carefully crafted to allow hunting as a possible option,” he said.
The council is scheduled to vote on the proposal Tuesday.
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