BEMIDJI -- The annual city of Bemidji Archery hunt begins Saturday, Sept. 14 and runs through Dec. 31.

The city of Bemidji has great deer habitat and as such, a high deer population, according to the city’s Deer Management Committee. And high deer populations can lead to unwanted safety issues within the city limits. And while deer are beautiful and enjoyable to watch, they also can become a hazard to drivers and spread black-legged ticks (commonly known as deer ticks) that carry a variety of diseases, such as Lyme’s disease, the committee said in a release.

The Bemidji Airport property also has a large deer population. Deer fence surrounding the facility has been effective at keeping deer off the runways, but wind from thunderstorms can knock trees across the fence, allowing deer access. For the past several years, Brian Hiller, wildlife professor at BSU, has conducted a spotlight survey of the deer within the Bemidji city limits. His survey confirms that the deer population is very high.

To manage the city and airport deer populations at a lower level, Bemidji initiated two archery deer hunts in 2006 -- one on the Bemidji Airport grounds and one in Ward 5 on the east side of Lake Bemidji. A third hunt in Ward 4 on the west side of Lake Bemidji was added in 2018.

The hunt is run by the city of Bemidji and the Bemidji Police Department.

Hunters were able to apply for the hunt before July 24. There was a $10 application fee and all applications were reviewed by the Police Department. A total of 62 public spots for the three hunt areas were filled by a lottery. Hunting is also permitted in Wards 4 and 5 on 36 private properties that met certain criteria and whose owners asked to be part of the hunt, the release said. Each public spot has a stand in a safe location that is set up before the season begins.

Successful applicants are required to pass an archery hunt proficiency test before the hunt.

Each hunter is allowed to shoot five deer, only one of which can be an antlered deer.

For 13 years, the Bemidji City Deer Hunt has been a huge success, officials said, with more than 350 deer being removed from the city limits.

Dave Rave, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Bemidji area wildlife manager and member of the Bemidji City Deer Hunt Committee, believes that because hunters harvest mostly does and fawns (89 percent of deer taken have been does and fawns), the hunt is achieving the goal of maintaining or reducing the deer population within the hunt area.

For more information, contact Bobbi Karpinski at (218) 759-3562 or email bobbi.karpinski@ci.bemidji.mn.us. For specific state hunting regulation questions, contact Rave at (218) 308-2336 or dave.rave@state.mn.us. Statewide, the deer archery season begins Saturday, Sept. 14. The firearms deer hunting season begins Nov. 9.