BEMIDJI -- A proposed special archery hunt to cull deer from the vicinity of Bemidji Regional Airport was rejected Wednesday by the Airport Authority Board.
A similar hunt near the northeast shore of Lake Bemidji is still planned to go forward this fall, city officials said.
The Airport Authority Board voted unanimously to go another year without a hunt, turning down a proposal by the City’s Deer Management Committee to hold the first hunt since 2011.
Karen Weller, the airport’s director, told board members before they voted that there were relatively few deer sightings during routine inspections by airport staff. Although she did not propose suspending the hunt this year, she recommended a scaled-down hunt with fewer hunters and a shorter duration if it was allowed to proceed.
“Considering we haven’t seen a lot of deer activity around the airport like we did several years ago, perhaps we don’t need something as intensive,” she said.
Eighteen deer were taken during the most recent special archery hunt in 2011, Weller said.
A 10-foot high fence was constructed to keep out deer in the 1990s.
Board member and County Commissioner Jim Lucachick felt the hunt was unnecessary.
“It seems like you’re kind of swatting a mosquito with a sledgehammer when you’ve got a 10-foot fence all around your airport and the only chink in our armor is somebody leaving the gate open,” he said.
However, the city has received deer complaints in Ward Four, adjacent to the airport, Teresa Hanson of the Deer Management Committee said Thursday.
“In my opinion…that population might get out of control, and those deer will start coming into the city, moving further and further into Ward Four,” she said.
The Airport Authority Board is separate from the city, although two City Council members serve on the board as representatives of the city government, as do two Beltrami County Commissioners.
The special city hunt follows the regular Minnesota deer archery season, which runs from Sept. 13 to Dec. 31, and those interested must apply for permits with the city. More information is available at City Hall, 317 Fourth St. NW, or by visiting the city’s website at www.ci.bemidji.mn.us. All applications and fees must be received at City Hall by 4 p.m. Aug. 8.