City hunt felled by arrows

Council won’t take on request for bow-and-arrow deer season

by Tom Coombe
Nuisance deer will apparently remain safe from bows and arrows within Ely’s city limits.
A citizens’ request that the city conduct a special season archery deer season failed to gain traction Tuesday.
Council members took no formal action on the request brought forward by Sarah Malick-Wahls and backed by numerous petitioners, but those who spoke lined up in opposition.
“There’s no real place (to safely hold a city hunt),” said council member Paul Kess.
While Malick-Wahls pointed to municipal hunting seasons in more than 20 cities, including nearby Tower, Cook and Hoyt Lakes, council members weren’t convinced a hunt could be safely done in town.
“They are geographically much bigger,” Kess said of other cities. “Ely is fairly compact and doesn’t have a lot of bigger tracts. It becomes problematic about where the hunt would happen.”
Mayor Chuck Novak was also cool to the proposal, contending that he and other city officials are dealing with more pressing issues ranging from the city budget to securing state funding for city projects.
“It’s not high on my priority list,” said Novak.
Novak added that he was concerned that stray arrows could harm people who live along Pioneer Road or walking or jogging along the Trezona Trail.
Malick-Wahls asked that city representatives engage in discussions with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and pursue the idea.
“Allowing a controlled hunt within our city would not be unprecedented,” Malick-Wahls wrote in correspondence that also included letters of support from several other Ely residents, as well as the regulations in place in Duluth, which has a special-season archery hunt.
Malick-Wahls suggested areas near Lucky Boy Road and the edge of Ely near the Old Airport Road, with a hunt “further away from residences so it can be a safe activity.”
She also made a multi-point case for city hunt, ranging from motorist safety to an overabundance of deer wreaking havoc with gardens in town.
“It is impossible to grow many flowers and vegetables in portions of this town, without near-daily application of deer repellent during the growing season or tall fencing,” Malick-Wahls wrote to the council.“I have experienced this frustration on an annual basis at my home on West Shagawa Road.”
Malick-Wahls also said that Chronic Wasting Disease spreads more easily when deer are in close proxmity, and that an archery hunt would also aid in moose recovery.
Council members seemed sympathetic to the arguments but not the proposed solution.
“I agree there are a lot of deer around,” said council member Al Forsman, who suggested moves that would allow firearms hunters to take more antlerless deer. “I don’t think (hunting) within the city limits is how to attack it.”