Archived Story

FF Council approves deer hunt in city limits

Published 11:13am Tuesday, August 7, 2012

This fall, Fergus Falls’ in-city deer hunt will be on.

Starting Sept. 15, 10 city residents selected by lottery and possessing state DNR archery licenses will be allowed to shoot deer in one of a few city-owned areas on the outskirts of town. The city council unanimously approved the hunt (just in 2012 for now) Monday in hopes that a small reduction of deer population would decrease car/deer accidents and deer nuisance calls.

Before the meeting, Mayor Hal Leland predicted that residents would share their thoughts on the proposal, and he turned out to be right. Three residents of the town’s more rural areas shared their thoughts on the idea.

First up was Gary Holen, who lives on East Mount Faith Avenue near the Oak Grove Cemetery.

“We built the house 20 years ago, and at that time, I bent over and planted 400 tulips,” said Holen. “Out of the 400, I think we got three so far. About the time they’re going to open up, the night before the deer come and eat them.”

Holen is in favor of the hunt, hoping both for increased road safety and that the hunt might keep the hundreds of dollars he and his wife spend on flowers from going to waste.

“I wish (the hunt) was more on my property,” he said.

After Holen came two others, both living on or near Minnesota Avenue and both against the hunt. Tom Johnson, who called himself an “avid bow hunter,” said that while he also suffers from deer eating his garden, he believes that munched-on flowers are part of life for those living near deer. He enjoys when the deer come around.

“This to me isn’t really bow hunting,” he said. “Bow hunting to me is being out in the wild, not taking animals that have been fed. There (are) a lot of people in town who feed the deer, and they enjoy seeing them too.”

Loni Jacobson agreed, saying that she didn’t think it was very “sporting” to shoot deer that have been enticed into a populated area. She also criticized the lack of notice she received about the hunt, noting that she found out about the council’s potential vote only the day before.

“There wasn’t much information out there for those of us that live in those areas that will be affected,” she said.

Alderman Randy Synstelien agreed with her point, saying that while he was “indifferent” to the hunt, he felt that more public education should have been done.

Other council members were more certain in their hopes that the hunt would decrease the deer population. Stan Synstelien noted the importance of balancing the beauty of wildlife with its potential to become a nuisance, and Scott Rachels said that some people who live or do business near the Norgren property on the town’s northeast corner are very in favor of the hunt.

“They think it’s 10 years too late,” he said.

In the end, the council voted unanimously to approve the hunt. The police department will begin preparing for the hunt soon to allow for institution during the fall archery season.

For his part, Police Chief Kile Bergren noted again during the meeting that he created the hunt parameters after being asked to by the council and that his rules were crafted with the goal of making the hunt as safe as possible (in addition to the limited hunt area, all hunters must pass a proficiency test) and as sanitary as possible (deer entrails must be bagged and taken from the area).

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