DNR meets with New Richmond City Council, community members about deer problem
After receiving multiple reports of deer causing problems throughout New Richmond, Mayor Fred Horne and the New Richmond Common Council met with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource employees and community members to discuss what can be done about the problem on Tuesday, Sept.17, in the Council Chambers at the New Richmond Civic Center.
Representing the WDNR at the meeting were Area Wildlife Supervisor and biologist Harvey Halvorsen and Conservation Warden Supervisor David Hausman, who started off the meeting by discussing some of the issues a community faces when trying to reduce and control the deer population within city limits.
“The No. 1 issue that I work with in any urban wildlife situation is do you have an ordinance against feeding deer in your community,” Halvorsen said. “If you do not have that ordinance, then I am not working with you simply because you are still providing a very key attractant to deer and will not be able to control your deer herd or its movement.”
The City of New Richmond does have an ordinance against feeding deer in the community (ordinance 447), which will make it easier for the DNR to work with the council and the community to deal with the deer problem.
Aside from the problem of residents feeding the deer population, there is also a problem with the ability for community members to hunt within city limits due to city ordinances against it.
“We have some ideas of where the deer refuges are, but we do not have authority to allow people to shoot within city limits if there is a discharge of firearm ordinance restriction,” Halvorsen said. “All hunting in the state of Wisconsin, and ultimately included in cities, is a DNR issue. We do have the rights to work with communities to open up areas to hunt, but there would have to be a local ordinance change to allow that.”
After opening statements from both of the DNR representatives, the meeting was opened to questions from the handful of citizens who made it to the meeting. One of the first questions asked related to what alternatives there are to shooting the deer in order reduce the population.
“Other alternatives include birth control, which we don’t do, and track and locate, which we also don’t do,” Halverson said. “The track and relocate plan would be done by the community and would cost $500 to $700 or higher per animal.
“Birth control could be a viable technique, because they are used in some zoos or captive wildlife populations. But that is the trick. You need to have a captive wildlife population for it to work. You have deer coming from other parts of the community and that would not work.” Another question asked of the DNR representatives dealt with the number of deer there would need to be in the city limits for the DNR to declare that the city has a deer problem.
“Usually it is a problem when there are enough complaints that the city government is willing to ask the DNR to issue them a permit,” Halvorsen said. “It has to come from your elected officials. They then can request DNR assistance and then we would help determine how many deer need to be reduced, but only when and if the City of New Richmond gave the DNR permission to do surveys and figure out the deer population.”
If the council was to choose to use controlled hunts,it would have to send a letter to the DNR expressing its desire to reduce the deer population within the city limits. The City of Hudson and the Village of North Hudson have asked for permits from the WDNR before to remove deer causing damage and nuisance in the city. Both municipalities used River Valley Deer Management, which created, managed and implemented a controlled archery-only deer hunt within the city and the village. The company’s primary goal is to remove antlerless deer to reduce the population.
“Sometimes there aren’t a lot of deer that come out of these areas during controlled hunts, but, in some cases, it does take some of the nuisance animals out of the herd,” Halverson said. “Over the last two to three years, the annual take of deer in Hudson and North Hudson has been about 25 to 35 deer using the archery-only controlled hunts. Those might be the hosta browsers and the apple twig browsers and you might get some relief.”
For now, the council feels the best course of action at this time is continue to have discussions with community members as well as to educate the public as to what the wildlife feeding ban entails, and to make sure that everyone knows what the consequences are for feeding the wildlife.
“This is just the starting phase and educational process,” Horne said. “To start off, we need to do a better job of educating the public with the deer-feeding ban and the fines associated with it. I think that will help as we continue to explore our options. And we will have more meetings like this, but it will take time for the council to get their minds around what is the best way forward with this.”
The fine for a first offense of feeding deer in the city is $183.30, while a second infraction warrants a fine of $309.