State News

Bragg takes safety measures after hunting death

Posted April 6, 2011 4:03 a.m. EDT
Updated April 6, 2011 4:31 p.m. EDT

— Fort Bragg has new safety features designed to prevent hunting accidents like the one believed to have killed a soldier who was jogging on post in January.

Changes include a 300-foot, no-hunting buffer zone on the Fort Bragg side of the All American Trail. The 20-mile pathway follows the base's southern border and is popular with joggers, hikers and others.

"Three hundred feet is an easily distinguishable distance," Alan Schultz, Fort Bragg's wildlife resources manager, said Wednesday. "It (provides) a line of sight. These woods are very open. So, the hunters will be able to regulate that."

Capt. Jeremiah Sipes, 33, of Montana, was shot and killed on the trail on Jan. 1, the last day of deer-hunting season. The Army is still investigating the incident, but a hunter who called 911 told a dispatcher that his friend accidentally shot Sipes after flushing a deer from the woods nearby.

Other new features will include bright red and green metal signs at entry points to make it clear whether the trail is open or closed for hunting season.

Bill Edwards, the range control manager said the trail has always been marked closed during deer-hunting season, but the new signs are more visible.

"In the past, the ones that were here were more of a paper- and cardboard-type sign, and I guess, over a period of time, they faded some," Edwards said. "It was still visible, obviously."

The trail will be open for turkey-hunting season, which begins Saturday and lasts five weeks, because only short-range shotguns are used, officials said.

"Most public lands do not close their trails – ever," Schultz said. "The bottom line is that our hunting safety program was extensive before (Sipes' death)."

Sipes was the third person killed in a hunting accident on Fort Bragg property in 44 years, officials said. Neither of the other two occurred on All American Trail.