Are these doe neighborly foe?
After Blue Earth City Council members had multiple residents come up to them about the presence of deer in town this past winter, the council decided to get some input from the Department of Natural Resources?as to how they can manage the number of deer traveling through town.
According to responses from the DNR, suggestions for the city included administering a special hunt, provide tech assistance or financial assistance to protect landscape plants, develop a deer management plan with the city and the city hires sharpshooters, involving disposition of carcass deer to food for needy people, as well as creating a zone of protected habitat, and enforcement of a no deer feeding policy within the city’s jurisdiction. These options are all at the city’s expense.
With so many potential solutions, there were just as many remarks and questions from the council.
“I feel like the effectiveness of these options are limited,” said city administrator Tim Ibisch. “They’re going to move. They have a whole riverbed to follow and we can try to clear out an area of town, and it could come back. I’m open to any conversation points with this to try and find a good solution for our city.”
Councilmember John Huisman stated he had heard from multiple citizens who are mostly concerned with their landscaping. Deer have been an issue when it comes to many different types of shrubs and flowers.
“The deer continuously damage them and the question was is there anything we can do? And we have seen them quite a bit this winter especially,” said Huisman.
Councilman Glenn Gaylord, an avid outdoorsman and nature enthusiast, said he felt a special hunt would have little impact, as he had witnessed deer consuming pine needles while he was out for a walk.
To most, this would not mean much, but Gaylord mentioned why seeing deer eating pine needles was pertinent to the issue.
“Pine needles are a last resort for deer, usually. If you see them eating pine needles, that means they’re going to eat anything and they may be starving. This would make special hunts more difficult, in my opinion,” said Gaylord. “But I do feel if we had more doe permits during the beginning of the hunting season, this may help with the numbers.”
He also added any deer that would be hunted could provide meat for those in need.
“I don’t like the idea of sharpshooters going out and killing animals for the sake of killing them and not using them. I want them to be used,” said Gaylord. “More doe permits may be one of the better options for the city.”
Mayor Rick Scholtes was in favor of enforcing a no deer feeding policy, but admitted it would be very difficult to enforce.
“I don’t actively feed deer,” said councilman Dan Warner. “But I do have bird feeders, and I have had to stop feeding the birds because I’ve seen the (deer) tracks.”
“I put my bird feeders away every night and put them back out every morning,” said councilman Russ Erichsrud. “We usually see nine to 10 deer each night if we don’t.”
Ibisch added that it would be important to talk to local legislators if the council did want to make changes with the DNR as far as hunting regulations were concerned.
“I think it’s important, if this is an issue we are passionate about, that we talk to our legislation about our concerns. That’s the best way to go about change,” said Ibisch. “?I have a list of items that I’ll be bringing to the legislation. If you have any other topics you’d like me to bring, please feel free to let me know.”
Another issue of concern brought up by the council was the emergency snow removal route code.
This past winter, Blue Earth used its snow emergency practice, which has not been used in years. Literally.
“It’s been how many years? The last time we used the emergency snow removal code was in the 80s,” said Councilman Huisman. “People don’t even know what it is anymore.”
Holland expressed his concern that perhaps it would be easier for the city to use a different tactic altogether. He informed the council there were issues with landlords and available street parking in the past, as well as not being able to ticket cars that were not following procedure.
“We can’t stop our plowing to get out and ticket a car,” he said. “It’s not a good use of our time if it truly is a snow emergency.”
Holland also stated that cars on the streets during snow fall creates a longer period of time for snow removal in general. What could be a one-day issue, turns into multiple days when cars are still in the path of snowplows.
The council debated whether to keep the snow emergency traffic code or not.
“There is my issue: no consistency. People need to have us call more of them in order for our citizens to practice this so people know what to do. If you are not going to do it consistently, don’t do it at all,” said councilman John Huisman.
Ibisch mentioned the city has seen an increase in the use of the public lot, the Blue Earth Community Library parking lot, during heavy snowfall in order for citizens to avoid getting their vehicles plowed in.
The council agreed they would continue to work together to find a feasible solution to get cars off the roads in order to have efficient snow removal in the future.
The Blue Earth City Council also:
Was informed that the 15th and Moore Street project total cost is just under $1.9 million, and the street committee will be meeting on March 15.
Unanimously approved the Public Works Maintenance Facility project. The project’s price tag has been tossed back and forth for a number of years and has been finalized at $809,000. The project was awarded to Ankeny Builders.