Commissioners Dave Piepkorn and Tony Gehrig expressed strong support at the last city commission meeting for the continuation of the program which began in 2006, but Police Chief David Zibolski suggested they end it.
The issue is on the agenda to be discussed again on Monday, June 14 at the city commission meeting, and Gehrig said in an interview on Friday that he expects hunting to still be allowed.
Mayor Tim Mahoney said on Friday he would like to organize a public meeting on the matter first to see what residents would like to do.
Discussing the matter at the last meeting, Zibolski said 43 of 45 applicants hunted last year and harvested 26 deer and a turkey.
“I don’t think it’s important for the management of the herd,” he said.
Bringing in snipers to reduce the herd may be a better option, he said.
Zibolski also raised concerns about public safety. With the city’s growing population, he said, more and more people are walking, jogging, biking, skiing and taking their pets for walks along the Red River.
So wandering arrows could be a problem, he said.
On top of that, Zibolski said, having police provide program oversight and compliance checks was not a good use of resources for his department.
Gehrig, however, said he believed last year’s harvest of 26 deer was “significant.”
There is a lot of interest in the program, Gehrig said. He suggested that more licenses be issued.
“I haven’t heard of any injuries or stray arrows,” he said. “People love this program. It’s not a Wild West problem, and it’s not a gun problem.”
Piepkorn said residents of northern Fargo have reported damage to their gardens and property from deer and turkeys. He said there were also concerns about sick wildlife.
“You have 20 wild turkeys on your property; it can be a mess, ”he said
Mayor Tim Mahoney, who said the city commission had received several emails on the matter, wanted more public comment before making a decision.
To help the police department, Mahoney suggested that another department or organization in town could take over the licensing.
Moorhead only allows bow hunting in the old Oakport Township, in the far north of the city, and in a few areas near MB Johnson Park.
The program is managed by the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District, police spokesman Deric Swenson said, but the city will resume the program soon.
Moorhead has banned feeding turkeys and has a policy that allows police to use baited nets or traps to capture pest birds. In extreme circumstances, police could shoot the birds after obtaining a permit from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.