A decade of deer: A total of 250 deer have been harvested in special archery hunts within city limits
BEMIDJI—In the decade of special deer hunts within city limits, a total of 250 deer have been harvested from two areas of town—Ward 5 on the northeast side of Lake Bemidji in Ward 5 and an area near the Bemidji Regional Airport.
The hunts, which serve as a form of wildlife population control, began in 2005 (at the airport location; 2006 in Ward 5) after the city received numerous complaints from residents.
"A lot of people in Ward 5. . . were complaining about the number of deer. There were a lot of automobile accidents with them, they were eating everything in sight, destroying plants and trees and shrubs," said Teresa Hanson, Bemidji deputy city clerk.
The hunts have been held annually in the Ward 5 location, while they have only been held six out of the past 10 years at the airport location.
During the 2016 Special Archery Deer Hunt, held from Sept. 19 to Dec. 31, a total of 21 white-tailed deer were harvested from the Ward 5 area and 13 from the airport area.
"We had a long nice fall, so I think some of the hunters were out more than they may have been had we had snow and cold weather earlier," Hanson said. "The last two winters previously were very mild so there was just that many more births that contributed to that population."
For the Ward 5 location, 54 hunters had applied for permits. Forty-three hunters participated, with 22 hunters on public sites and 21 on private sites.
At the airport location, 63 hunters applied for permits and 27 hunters participated.
The highest year for deer harvested in the Ward 5 area was the first year of 2006, when 27 deer were taken. This year's total matched the 21 set in 2013. At the airport location, the highest total was 20 in 2008 after no hunts were held in area in 2006-07.
The deer management committee, which organizes the hunts, pays attention to areas where they may need to expand the hunt to solve similar problems.
In 2012, the committee conducted a survey with residents in Ward 4 after hearing similar complaints.
"We did not get a 50 percent or greater support for that. At that time, we thought 'Oh well, we don't want to push a hunt on area that doesn't want a hunt,'" Hanson said. "It's been five years, we realize things change, owners change, animals move to new areas. We're planning to send out another survey this year."