Opposition halts White Bear bow hunts

Town board will review two others

White Bear Township Archery hunts planned for parks in White
Bear Township, located on the fringe of the Twin Cites metro area,
haven’t gone as scheduled.

Opposition has forced the cancellation of two of four, three-day
hunts to cull the deer herd at three Ramsey County-managed areas in
the township, including Poplar Lake “open space,” the Otter Lake
unit of the Bald Eagle/Otter Lake Regional Park, and the Tamarack
Nature Center, also part of BE/OL Regional Park.

High numbers of deer, and associated problems, have raised the
need for the management function, officials say.

“We’ve done a survey of the park the past two years,” said John
Moriarty, natural resources specialist for Ramsey County Parks.
“And the numbers are far in excess of what’s recommended by the
DNR.

“We have a lot of deer browse damage, a lot of rub damage. You
can see where the herd is stressing habitat in the park,” he
said.

Furthermore, car-deer collisions around the park and nature
center areas have been high. In fact within a one-mile radius of
the Tamarack Nature Center, 27 such collisions have been reported
in the past 18 months, Moriarty said.

According to a survey conducted in February, there are about 38
deer in Tamarack, which is about half a square mile in size. The
current population goal for that area is 10 to 15 animals. There
are about 70 in the entire BE/OL Regional Park area, a number Parks
officials would like to see reduced to 20 to 30.

The Poplar Lake area is about a half square mile and the goal is
to reduce the 35-deer herd to about 15 deer.

Following approval by the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners
in August, four hunts were scheduled to occur at each of three
locations in White Bear Township in September, October, and
November.

The Ramsey County Cooperative Deer Management Implementation
Program also included the cities of Maplewood, St. Paul, and
Shoreview. All were to occur within the state-set archery deer
hunting framework at county parks and open space areas.

But while other municipalities needed public meetings to
finalize the hunts, White Bear Township already had a provision
allowing the special hunts, Moriarty said.

Lack of resident input regarding the first-time White Bear hunts
prompted one of them to action. Three months ago, Betsy Larey, of
White Bear Lake, began a campaign against the hunts at the three
township locations.

The opposition caused White Bear Township officials to delay a
decision on the archery hunts until Oct. 23, effectively cancelling
the first two three-day hunts at each location.

Larey, who is collecting signatures for a petition opposing the
hunts, said evidence hasn’t convinced her or other signatories,
that the hunts are warranted.

“I’m not an animal rights activist and I’m not anti-hunting,”
said Larey, the owner of a health club in Stillwater. “And what’s
been gratifying is some of the people who have signed the petition
are people who hunt.

“We just don’t feel deer are a problem (in the proposed White
Bear hunt areas).”

Furthermore, she said, the deer of the Tamarack Nature Center
(which is near her home) are tame.

Larey questions the deer-related numbers disbursed by Ramsey
County Parks.

“According to the count by (Moriarty), the deer numbers are down
30 percent from 1999 without the hunt,” she said. “If the numbers
are down, why would it hurt to wait to see if they go down on their
own?

“The people I speak to who use Tamarack on a regular basis say
they’ve seen fewer and fewer deer the past few years.”

Moriarty said there’s reason for that. Both the regional park
and the Poplar Lake open space are adjacent to North Oaks, an area
that held about 900 deer just a few years ago. But aggressive
management, he said, has reduced that herd to below 300
animals.

Larey also said she disputes the car-deer crash numbers.

The complaints about deer, she said, have come from a few
property owners most of whom don’t live near Tamarack regarding
browsing on flowers and shrubs. Tolerance to deer browsing is less,
she claims, because parks officials wish to return shrubs, trees,
and plants, which historically existed in the area, to areas like
Tamarack.

But the Ramsey County Board approved the resolution for the
management hunts by a vote of 6-0, according to Chief Clerk Bonnie
Jackelen. One commissioner wasn’t present. And only in White Bear
Township has there been noticeable opposition.

Moriarty said public meetings were held in Maplewood and other
areas where approval of the hunts stood at about 75 percent. The
bowhunters would come from the Metro Bowhunters Resources Base, a
group that currently helping municipalities with deer control at
nine other metro locations. Moriarty said those hunters have a high
success rate.

It’s up to the three members of the White Bear Township Board to
determine if the final two archery hunts will occur at the park
locations this fall. They’ll make that decision Oct. 23, according
to township planner Tom Riedesel.

The remaing hunts are scheduled for Nov. 6-8 and Nov. 27-29 at
Poplar and Tamarack areas and Nov. 9-11 and Dec. 15-17 at Otter
Lake.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *