Newport's city deer hunting plan might changeNewport officials say they will consider tweaking a city ordinance that allows bow hunting in a rural residential area of the city following continued concerns expressed by homeowners in the area.
Newport officials say they will consider tweaking a city ordinance that allows bow hunting in a rural residential area of the city following continued concerns expressed by homeowners in the area.
However, City Administrator Brian Anderson said recently he doesn’t expect any wholesale changes to the 2010 law that is aimed at shrinking a local deer population officials say is even higher than they expected when the ordinance was put in place.
A group of residents of the wooded, hilly neighborhood in Newport’s northeast corner that makes up the bulk of the legalized bow hunting area expressed their lingering anxieties with the ordinance before the Newport City Council earlier this this month. They recommended a series of changes to the ordinance, including making it illegal to feed deer in the city, allowing a professional bow hunting group to hunt within the confines of a pair of city parks in the area and continued aerial deer surveys to monitor the local population.
The first survey, conducted last year, surprised city officials, Anderson said; Department of Natural Resources officers estimated more than 90 deer live within the small city’s borders. That, Anderson said, is roughly triple what the city expected.
Because of that, Anderson said the council will seriously consider the group’s recommendation at a meeting next month to bring in a bow hunting association to hunt on city lands in spacious, wooded Bailey and Loveland parks.
“If we really want to reduce the herd population … I think some bigger measures need to be taken,” Anderson said.
Concerns still exist
Still, for some residents a litany of concerns still exist with the ordinance passed despite strong resistance from neighborhood residents roughly 16 months ago who said they were concerned about stray arrows and trespassing hunters.
Neighborhood resident Tom Aguilar-Downing, who helped head a pair of neighborhood discussions on the issue, laid out the worries he said some residents still have with the ordinance, among them safety, neighborhood disruptions and a desire to leave the wildlife alone.
Aguilar-Downing also said the neighborhood felt city officials pushed through the ordinance without seeking enough input of the area’s residents.
“There was some objection [the neighborhood] was not involved,” Aguilar-Downing told the Council.
The report he presented to the council also noted concern over required annual proficiency tests for hunters that can no longer be conducted because of the closure of Backwoods Archery, the Newport business where they were completed.
Hunters must seek permission before hunting on any piece of property and that property must be five acres or larger. Neighboring cities Cottage Grove and Woodbury also have bow hunting ordinances in place.
Anderson said it isn’t clear how successful the ordinance has been in thinning the Newport deer population; no population survey was conducted before the City Council passed the ordinance in October 2010.
Mayor Tim Geraghty said after the neighborhood group’s presentation that minor changes to the ordinance would be forthcoming.
“Obviously, we have to do something to correct the ordinance,” said Geraghty, referencing the closure of Backwoods Archery.