FF Council to vote on deer huntPublished 11:37am Monday, August 6, 2012
Mayor Hal Leland is hoping that Fergus Falls residents’ voices will be heard at Monday’s city council meeting during a discussion about the in-city deer hunt proposed for this fall. The Fergus Falls Finance Committee recommended approval of the hunt to the city council on Wednesday, but Leland says he’s heard from residents concerned about the hunt’s potential dangers.
Alderman Jim Fish originally brought up the topic in May. In addition to recreational enjoyment by a few hunters, the hunt – which would be archery only – would also be a sort of trial run to curb the number of car/deer run-ins in city limits, both through actual thinning of the deer population and by deer leaving the area due to the presence of hunters. In 2011 and 2012 through early June, there were 18 car/deer accidents in city limits.
“This is not a bonus hunt,” said Police Chief Kile Bergren. “What the city would be allowing is just … for hunting to occur within the city limits.”
On Wednesday, Fish joked that though some deer did eat some of his plants this year, they did so after he proposed the hunt.
“This is not revenge,” he said with a chuckle.
However, the hunt was no laughing matter for Leland, who is not on the committee but was in attendance. At the close of the meeting, he approached the podium and said he did not want to see the hunt on the council’s consent agenda Monday, preferring that it be discussed as a separate item instead.
“I’ve had some commentary especially from people along the (Otter Tail) River who are very concerned,” he said, noting that some are worried about public safety.
“My concern is that the public hasn’t had much information on this, and (they should) be able to ask some questions,” Leland told The Journal. He believes some aspects of the hunt, including its purpose and its safeguards, are unclear to many residents.
Though Bergren noted that he is not advocating for or against the hunt (he put together information and guidelines about it at the council’s request), he said the hunt’s rules are designed to keep people out of danger.
The hunt would only allow 10 hunters (possibly fewer) to hunt in a few designated areas on the outskirts of the city, away from residential areas: around the wastewater treatment plants south of Otter Tail Drive and south of County Road 1 (not near Red Sox Park), west of the Fergus Falls Industrial Park and on the old Norgren property near the city’s northeast boundary. The hunters, who would be selected by lottery, would all need to have a Minnesota DNR archery license and would shoot deer in city limits in accordance with the license, as if the deer were shot outside the city. They would also need to pass an archery proficiency test, wear an identifying “back tag” and would not be allowed to change hunting areas once the hunting period begins.
Bergren added that some possible locations have already been nixed for permitting reasons, availability of deer, and concerns – perceived or legitimate – about safety.
“The areas are really not in residential areas,” he said. “There would be a few residents possibly affected near the water treatment plant. I believe by the Norgren property there would be only one resident there.”
Leland said a prime concern of some people he’s talked to is that the hunt be nowhere near residential areas. He was not sure if any residents would speak out about the hunt, but he said it was very possible.
The city council meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at city hall.