This aerial map shows the location of MCI-Concord, which the state slated to close in June. 

Cataldo measure would nix hunting on MCI-Concord property 

March 11, 2024

By Sammy Grobman — BU Statehouse Program 

With increased usage of the land surrounding MCI-Concord, hunting may become more dangerous as the prison closes and the area changes.  

“There’s a very small area where hunting is legally allowed adjacent to both Wright Road and West Concord, and the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail,” said Rep. Simon Cataldo, D-Concord. “They have been complaining about this for many years.” 

After multiple complaints from residents, Cataldo sponsored a bill to prohibit hunting on Concord property owned by the Department of Correction.  

The measure has won near final approval in the House, but the Senate must still take it up. 

Concordians have safety concerns about hunting as residential and recreational spaces grow.  

“We have the Rail Trail there; we have Gerow Park there,” said Court Booth, who lives near MCI-Concord. “There’s just a lot more pedestrian traffic or recreational users who are not hunters.” 

Current laws prohibit hunting within 500 feet of an occupied dwelling and within 150 feet of a road.  

Hunting is allowed on state-owned land if it’s not explicitly prohibited by the owner. The Department of Correction has never prohibited hunting on its property. 

After various attempts to communicate with DOC, Booth said, the agency hasn’t given either formal permission for hunting, nor a denial. 

“It’s not a designated hunting area, but the owner has not prohibited it. Therefore, it’s legit,” Booth said.

Assessing the risk  

There have been no reports of residents or recreational users injured by hunting activities in the area, though there have been three occasions where neighbors had buckshot hit their property, he said.  

“Just a couple of weeks ago, somebody sent me a picture of a goose that had been shot and landed on the Rail Trail in West Concord,” Cataldo said.   

Concord Police Captain Brian Goldman said “the biggest concern is [that] it’s a safety issue. Five hundred [feet] is a short distance when you think about it.” 

Also, “a bullet is going to travel,” Goldman said. “If it hits an animal, it doesn’t mean all the projectiles are going to stop right there.” 

Cataldo acknowledged that with the development of the Rail Trail and adjoining Gerow Park, safe hunting space has shrunk to the point where being around it is riskier.  

Hunters say that in addition to taking advantage of recreational opportunities, they help control overpopulation of animals like deer and geese.  

“It’s residential, it’s suburban, but there’s a huge deer problem and people are hitting them with their cars. They’re contracting Lyme disease from the deer carrying the ticks,” said Joseph Brooks, vice president of the Concord Rod and Gun Club.  

Brooks was unaware of the bill, as well as of the extent of hunting around the prison.  

“I would think that the people would want people to get rid of those geese, because it becomes such a nuisance,” he said.