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Committee sees obstacles

Nuisance animal committee worries about urban hunting

Jill Schramm/MDN Nuisance animal committee member Greg Gullickson, left, talks about animal management at a meeting Wednesday as committee member Dwayne Walz listens at right.

The absence of large tracts of public land could rule out hunting as a tool for controlling Minot’s wildlife population. However, a city committee considering nuisance animals continues to look at all options as it attempts to craft recommendations for the Minot City Council.

Meeting Wednesday, the committee took no action on urban hunting, preferring to mull the information until the next meeting Nov. 1 at 12:30 p.m. in City Hall.

Committee Chairman Josh Wolsky acknowledged the mixed and strong feelings in the community regarding urban hunting. He said hunting arguments are best made to the city council, which will make the decision. The committee’s task is to investigate options and present the best management plan for the council’s consideration, he said.

In considering whether bow hunting should be included in a wildlife management program, the committee learned there is little in the way of public land that could be a good fit for hunting. Larger tracts belong to the park district, although there are some privately-owned coulee lands of adequate size.

Ron Merritt, parks director, said the park board is open to looking at goose hunting on the golf course for a day or two. Unlike the parks, access to the golf course can be controlled to keep nonhunters away on those days. A better option, though, he suggested, is to hunt Minot’s geese during the late summer and early fall when they leave the city to feed in the harvested fields. Geese clear out of the parks and golf course for areas such as farmland near the Enbridge tanks to the east and landfill to the southwest.

Police Chief Jason Olson said his concern is there aren’t locations available in the city that are suitable for hunting.

“I just don’t think hunting is probably the best solution for our city,” he said.

Greg Gullickson, outreach biologist with the North Dakota Game & Fish in Minot, echoed the concern.

“I don’t see us having these large tracts of land where we could pull it off and do it safely,” he said.

Gullickson did indicate that hunting has been conducted safely and has served to maintain or reduce wildlife populations in other cities. Other solutions to deterring unwanted populations include fencing and elimination of wildlife feeding, he said.

“The population of deer in Minot has come up dramatically over the last 10 to 15 years,” Gullickson said. “There’s a pretty extensive amount of property damage going on in Minot between the gardens and the vehicles.”

The committee agreed that working with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service officials to implement trapping and other management tools may be worthwhile.

Regarding geese, the committee voted to draft an ordinance to begin a program providing for egg addling. Addling uses shaking, oiling or other methods to cause eggs not to hatch. The committee is proposing the city obtain a permit that would enable designated staff to perform egg addling, which already is conducted by the park district on its lands.

Egg addling isn’t effective with turkeys. Trapping isn’t effective, either. Olson said few turkeys are lured by traps.

“It has some effect but it has limited effect in controlling the population,” he said.

Banning feeding of turkeys could improve the effectiveness of trapping, Gullickson said.

The committee plans to consider an ordinance at the next meeting that would make feeding of wildlife an infraction, punishable with a fine up to $1,000.

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