Published April 14, 2011, 08:32 AM

City edges toward fall deer hunt

After talking with constituents a few weeks ago at a special meeting, the possibility of a bow hunt for deer within city limits is still on the table for the Two Harbors City Council.

After talking with constituents a few weeks ago at a special meeting, the possibility of a bow hunt for deer within city limits is still on the table for the Two Harbors City Council.

Many at the meeting showed support for a hunt, 12-3 in favor. It’s a topic that has come up over recent years as the population of deer increases in the city. The latest measure came last when the city council voted to ban the feeding of deer.

And it’s not just deer destroying gardens that is a concern. They can also attract predators such as wolves, coyotes, and mountain lions – all which have been seen in or around Two Harbors.

“There are too many reports of other predators in the community,” Mayor Randy Bolen said.

Bolen said a bow hunt would coincide with the regular fall bow hunt across the state that begins Sept. 17. He assured local hunters that they would have first crack if a lottery system is developed to select hunters. Council member Steve Detlefsen anticipated 60-70 people to sign up for the hunt from the beginning.

The Arrowhead Bow-hunters Alliance was at the meeting in support of the hunt. According to their statistics, 602 deer were harvested in the Duluth bow hunt in 2010.

Two Harbors Police Chief Chris Donald has expressed concerns about safety.

Donald said he’s been assured by local bow hunters that accuracy training would take place for more accurate shots – with the less likelihood of a stray arrow hitting someone.

Donald and representatives from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have reported to the council in the past that the city should proceed with caution. Results from hunts are mixed in places like Duluth and Hermantown, with many saying bow hunts are having little impact and deer are moving to remote areas.

“I understand the issue with the deer problem,” Donald said.

Locations for a hunt would be north of the golf course and the Pamida and Harbor Hills areas. Hunting zones were also considered near Segog.

Donald said his main concern area would be north of the golf course. He said kids run on the Erkki Harju Ski Trail in the fall for cross country running and was concerned for their safety.

Bob Kirsch, Two Harbors DNR area wildlife manager, said the hunt could work dependent upon its design. He said the city would need to map it out with realistic places people could hunt.

“The deer herd has been building,” Kirsch said. He said it would be difficult to tell if the bow hunt is working in the first few years.

Kirsch recommended the hunt focus on doe’s rather than bucks which would lead to fewer deer being born in the future.

He said there is a possibility of pushing deer into residential areas faster by a hunt in more wooded areas in Two Harbors. He said the hunt could also push more deer out of town.

Council member Chris Swanson said the ban on deer feeding hasn’t worked.

A vote on a bow hunt in city limits is expected this spring. The council put the matter back into the Public Affairs Committee to get some ideas together.

In October, Donald said the problem with a deer hunt is that it won’t solve the problem of too many deer in the city. The limited areas where there could be hunting would allow for only a dozen permits, he said. “You shoot maybe 30 a year. They’ll be right back,” he said.

Council members said any deer taken would be a benefit. Donald agreed that “we’ve never seen this many deer ” in city limits.

DNR Conservation Officer Matt Miller said at the October meeting that any hunt within city limits is the sole responsibility of the city. He said a hunt or sharpshooting to cull herds makes sense in cities where traffic control is a problem, like in Duluth, where traffic speeds make running into a deer a deadly hazard for drivers. He and Donald said low speed limits within the city lessen the argument for traffic safety.

Council members plan to work with the local Drop Tine chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association on designing the hunt, mainly for tracking deer and resolving any problems with city dwellers. Chapter members have told council members that they would help.