Sheriff’s officials in Lake Elsinore and neighboring communities are being flooded with complaints about recreational shooting on public lands, prompting a warning Friday that anyone caught in the act could be charged with a crime.
“Over the last six months, we have noticed a significant increase in calls for service related to illegal shooting and illegal off-road vehicle traffic in our unincorporated rural areas,” said Lt. Joseph Pemberton. “Riverside County Ordinance No. 514.10 strictly forbids recreational shooting in western Riverside County.”
According to Pemberton, residents of Mead Valley and other unincorporated communities north of state Route 74, east of Interstate 15, west of Interstate 215 and south of the Riverside (91) Freeway have had their residences struck by stray bullets, apparently fired by people riding all-terrain vehicles to remote spots and firing guns.
Pemberton said firearm and ATV noise-related complaints have surged, as well as complaints about littering and trespassing.
The lieutenant said licensed hunters can utilize firearms — primarily shotguns — but only between July 4 and Jan. 15.
According to Pemberton, deputies will be ratcheting up efforts to locate violators of Ordinance No. 514.10, taking a “zero tolerance” stance toward violations. Personnel from the federal Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service will be involved, as well, he said.
Under the ordinance, the first two violations are treated as infractions that carry fines of $100 to $200. A third offense can result in a misdemeanor charge, with fines as high as $1,000 and potential jail time.
Pemberton said anyone wishing to engage in target shooting should go to a range.
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