City Council approves archery deer hunts in Rochester parks

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – This is the first of its kind in Rochester.

“It’s not uncommon, I mean it happens in towns all around,” said Terry Spaeth, president of the Rochester Archery Club.

The Rochester City Council approved an archery deer hunt and forwarded it to the city’s park board. The council will then decide on certain details of the hunts.

“The park board can determine that they may want to look at particular parks and maybe narrow it down, and we’ll talk to the park board about that,” Spaeth said.

Spaeth says his group is teaming up with the city on this program.

He says that not just anyone will be able to hunt: hunters will have to apply for places and must be checked for their bowhunting skills. Places will be scarce, so all names will be drawn from a hat.

“These are people who know what they are doing and would do it in the most ethical way possible,” Spaeth said.

Support for these hunts stems from concerns over the city’s growing deer population.

“It’s very important if nature can’t control the populations, if they get too high, then if we want to step in and help that,” said Oxbow Park naturalist Jaide Ryks.

“Park board members, council members and other community leaders have received calls and complaints,” Spaeth said.

Rochester deer have no natural predators as they would in the wild, and a healthy doe can produce up to FOUR offspring each year.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says the growing deer population may cause more car accidents, damage property and could also spread tick-borne diseases.

Deer can also spread diseases among themselves, such as chronic wasting disease, at a higher rate when there are more of them.

“When you get them in cities, you’re going to get more car wrecks, and then when you cluster them together, that’s how you’re going to get CWD, the chronic wasting disease,” Ryks said. “Because they eat the same food, they are close.”

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Earnest A. Martinez