Waupaca residents recently had an opportunity to voice their concerns regarding the significant deer population within the city. The city’s Deer Management Ad Hoc Committee revealed the preliminary results of a resident survey that saw mixed results on what action they believe the Waupaca City Council should take to address the issue.
While the committee is not ready to make a recommendation to the council just yet, one option seems to stand out above the rest.
“I think that the direction the council was leaning towards when they set up the ad hoc committee was to come back with some recommendations, but throughout the whole process they were talking about doing a bow hunt of some kind,” said Waupaca Mayor Brian Smith.
Mayor Smith says the city has an ordinance that prohibits a firearm from being discharged within city limits, meaning the only way to allow a gun-hunt would be to hire sharpshooters, which would prove to be too costly.
The ad hoc committee is still in the initial stages before making a recommendation to the council, but Mayor Smith thinks they could have one decided and implemented by the summer.
“There’s concerns for their plants that they grow and there’s also concerns for Lyme disease, ticks, and so on,” said Mayor Smith. “From the city council’s standpoint, if the ad hoc committee makes a recommendation in February, I’m assuming in March the city council would like to have the ability to have a public hearing. Then whoever wants to speak, come in front of city council and speak either for or against.”
With that timeline, the council would likely decide in April whether to move forward with the hunt or remain with the status quo.
The city was faced with a similar issue a few years prior, but decided to not take action, a perception that seems to have changed among a majority of residents. However, as discovered from the resident survey, there are some who are concerned about the safety issues a city bow hunt could present.
“There are regulations that they have to follow if they were to hunt, but again I would have concerns with that too,” Mayor Smith empathized. “When you do shoot a deer with a bow, the deer almost always run. They don’t go straight down. Those deer will run and you may have more accidents because of the shoot than you had before, although you are reducing the number of deer that you have.”
Safety concerns are where the DNR is lending its support to the city of Waupaca. Conservation Warden Jon Kaiser assures they are willing to lend as much assistance as possible in regards to any safety or legal concerns for a managed hunt.
“We want to make sure that we’re there to support the city of Waupaca, support the committee,” said Kaiser about the DNR’s role. “As far as safety goes, which is the number one priority, it’s making sure that anything that is or isn’t planned down the road to manage deer populations, are safe and provide for public safety.”
It will ultimately be up to the Waupaca City Council to make a final decision, however, in the coming months they will be taking all things from the ad hoc committee and from the public into consideration.