Most of those attending a public input session Monday night expressed support for Alexandria to have an archery deer hunt within city limits to thin the deer from damaging property.
But they also urged the Alexandria City Council to guard against trespassing hunters and having wounded deer running through neighborhoods.
A total of seven people spoke at the April 26 meeting. Three residents talked about how the deer population is getting out of control.
Lyle Holscher on Melody Lane said seven does and three bucks were in his yard this past January and damaged his yard and an apple tree. Two years ago, he said deer mutilated his garden so badly he wasn't able to harvest anything.
Holscher said the deer herd's habitat has moved because of development. "I used to bow hunt where the high school is now," he said. "Nothing is being done now to harvest deer."
A resident of Summer Lane told the council that he sees as many as 26 deer in his area. He's a new homeowner who planted five trees only to lose two of them to the deer. "It's a good idea to thin the herd," he told the council.
Gary Renowitz of Boyd Drive NE said deer have broken into his fenced garden three times, ate all the apples of of two of his trees, damaged eight mature trees, and devoured shrubs and flowers in his yard. "I planted more than 100 tulip bulbs and only three survived," he said. "It's very common to see more than a dozen deer in my yard."
Renowitz said that kind of concentration could create bigger problems, such as chronic wasting disease or CWD.
Chris Kleine with the Viking Sportsmen told the council that his group supports an in-city deer hunt as a tool for managing CWD. He said it could curb the threat of CWD.
Craig Schiele of Alexandria said he doesn't care if the city holds a hunt or not, as long as they take care of trespassers.
Kevin Kotts with the Department of Natural Resource's wildlife management in Glenwood said the DNR would work with the city on a municipal deer hunt. The city would need to determine whether to allow it and where to allow it.
Some cities, Kotts said, require hunters to pass an archery proficiency test to make sure they're capable of hitting a deer in its heart from 20 yards out, for example. That kind of accuracy would prevent wounded deer from traveling a long way.
Mitch Lawler, a DNR conservation officer, told the council he's not against a hunt or for it but added the city should consider the potential trespassing problems. He's also concerned about wounded deer that can travel quite a distance, crossing city streets and going onto private property.
Lawler also said the city should be alert for deer "baiting'" by not allowing hunters to attract deer by putting out piles of pumpkins on their property or bird feeders.
Mayor Bobbie Osterberg thanked all those who took part in the session and said the council would continue to explore the idea of a deer hunt.
She encouraged other residents to share their thoughts by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The city will accept comments until the next council meeting on Monday, May 10.
City staff has researched how other cities conduct municipal deer hunts and provided these links: