Committee to consider urban hunting, ban on feeding wildlife

 Jill Schramm/MDN Police Chief Jason Olson points out an area on a map marked by pins showing locations where animal nuisance calls have come from this year.

People who feed wildlife in Minot would be subject to fines under an ordinance being proposed by a city committee studying solutions to nuisance animals. The committee also is recommending the Minot City Council leave open the possibility of selective urban hunting in its effort to ban archery and crossbow hunting in city limits.

The committee met Wednesday to outline the direction it wants to take in addressing deer, geese, turkeys, raccoons and rabbits as nuisance animals.

The committee voted to recommend the council add to the language its hunting ban to allow hunting when properly permitted and sanctioned by the city for wildlife management. The council approved the ordinance on first reading Monday and can amend it before giving final approval on second reading.

By adding the proposed amendment, the committee isn’t suggesting hunting be allowed but is leaving open the possibility. Committee members took information Wednesday but left discussion on a possible recommendation for urban hunting to its next meeting on Oct. 18.

Greg Gullickson, outreach biologist with the N.D. Game & Fish, presented information from Bismarck and Fargo regarding their urban hunting policies. Hunting tags from the Game and Fish are required, and participants must complete a training program and proficiency testing. He added he is unaware of any incidents with public safety in those urban programs.

“There are situations where hunting is a tool that has worked for other communities,” he said.

From January 2016 to date, Minot Police Department has responded to 137 calls about deer, 62 calls on raccoons, 45 calls about geese and 35 calls related to turkeys. These do not include calls to Minot Public Works that did not come to the attention of police.

So far in 2017, the police department has received 64 deer calls, of which 31 were confirmed dead deer cases, Olson said. Traffic incidents are most likely causes, he said. Geese issues largely have been connected with Oak Park and often involve human harassment of the birds.

Chuck Emery, Minot Park Board member, said the board drafted an ordinance against feeding geese in Oak Park after people ignored signs against feeding. He said the only other solutions are hunting or removing most of the eggs from nests. The park district has a permit from Game & Fish to destroy eggs.

The animal nuisance committee moved to have an ordinance banning animal feeding drafted for consideration at a future meeting, with an exclusion for zoo animals as permitted under zoo policy.

The ordinance would cover not only feeding bread to geese, which is harmful to them and prevents their ability to fly and migrate, but also would address concerns raised about the dumping of apples in Rosehill Cemetery and corn in the coulees for deer.

Penalty options include charging violations as criminal infractions, subject to a fine up to $1,000, or Class B misdemeanors, subject to a fine up to $1,000 plus 30 days in jail.

Committee Chairman Josh Wolsky recommended an amendment to an existing ordinance that prohibits disturbing bird nests or harassing birds. Harassment of birds can serve to discourage them from populating in areas where they are unwanted. Wolsky said the ordinance should include exemptions to allow for wildlife management measures. The committee voted to recommend the ordinance be amended to allow properly permitted activities.

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