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Hermantown Police Chief clamps down on hunt permits

The Hermantown Police Department gets its share of calls about nuisance deer in the city, and since 1996, bowhunters have been thinning the deer herd a little at a time.

The Hermantown Police Department gets its share of calls about nuisance deer in the city, and since 1996, bowhunters have been thinning the deer herd a little at a time.

There might be fewer deer taken this year, though, the first that Police Chief Michael Anderson has been in charge of issuing permits. Anderson has chosen to strictly follow the city's deer hunting ordinance, which does not allow hunting in a subdivision, no matter how large the lots in that subdivision might be.

Anderson's decision has rubbed some deer hunters the wrong way, he told Hermantown officials during a pre-agenda meeting on Friday morning. Some people had been granted permits to bowhunt in subdivisions in past years, but were denied this year.

"We've turned away a lot of unhappy people," Anderson said during the meeting, forewarning city councilors that hunters who had been denied might request changes in the deer hunting ordinance.

The bowhunting season begins today and runs through Dec. 31. As of Friday, 51 permits had been issued, compared with 129 for the entire season in 2006, Anderson said. He said permits typically trickle in throughout the season.

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"We're trying our best to solve the deer herd in Hermantown," Anderson said. "My stand this year is to follow the ordinance as written, and use this first year to look for other successful and safe ways to allow people to come and hunt in Hermantown."

Hunting is allowed on parcels of at least eight acres east of Lavaque Road, and on any parcel west of Lavaque Road, but not in a subdivision. Hunting is not allowed within 500 feet of any dwelling or building that houses animals, within 500 feet of a school, or on city-owned land.

Many people who live in the subdivisions and residential areas have cultivated landscapes and gardens full of the plants that deer like to munch.

Anderson and other city officials have said they might amend the current ordinance for next year's hunt, possibly allowing bowhunting on large, adjoining properties in subdivisions. They might also require hunters to take one doe before they take a buck, Anderson said. The current Hermantown ordinance allows hunters to take up to five deer, but only one buck.

Anderson also is paying his staff overtime to process the paperwork that the $10 permit necessitates. He said it takes about half an hour to verify applicants' property information and issue each permit.

It's hard to say whether the city hunt is reducing Hermantown's deer population, Anderson said. In 2006 the city banned deer feeding in an attempt to keep deer from roaming through residential areas.

"But it's so hard to tell what the deer herd is," Anderson said. "How does the police department count deer?"

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