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Outdoor Life - Outdoor life is a column by Mick Bohonis.
2011-12-02 at 10:52

City makes right decision

After a lengthy session at city council on Monday night, council voted they will indeed go ahead with a planned bow hunt for whitetail deer within the city limits for 2012.

Several deputations were made by individuals representing different outdoor organizations trying to educate and explain why such a bow hunt would be an efficient management tool in reducing our local deer numbers.

As the majority of us already know, our deer herd has increased to a level where something has to be done. Over the last few years there has been a huge increase in vehicle accidents and property damage within our city limits due to the marauding deer.

Council was asked to amend the city’s discharge of firearms bylaw to allow for a bow hunt of deer on private property in certain areas within the outskirts of the city limits.

Members of council had many questions on the issue, and rightly so as this is something that entails the dispatching of a wild animal, and of course safety was the main concern on most councillors minds. A bylaw will also be put in place where feeding deer will be prohibited.

With the change in bylaw, it would allow bow hunting on private property only in some parts of the city. However, a special document will have to be filled out by the hunter and the land owner not only for permission to hunt on his land, but also governing field dressing of the animal, and the use of attractants. A copy will remain with the hunter and a copy with the land owner.

This hunt will not be treated any differently than a regular season out of city deer hunt. Rules and regulations will remain and be enforced by the city police force in conjunction with the Ministry of Natural Resources if needed.

Glenn Rivard, the first vice president of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) said, “Thunder Bay council is to be congratulated for their courage. They have shown leadership, reasoned integrity and fiscal responsibility by applying what 10,000 North American wildlife professionals know. Urban deer management is not possible by non-lethal methods alone, ultimately it requires a reduction of deer densities.

This resolution will only allow land owners in parts of the city the freedom to decide what they will or will not allow on their own property.”

Of course this type of amendment does not come into play without opposition, and it was present at the meeting Monday evening.

However, with the well-planned and laid out documentation the city councillors had presented to them by the licensing and enforcement office from the city of Thunder Bay, and also the very well presented deputations from the Northwestern Ontario Sportsmen’s Alliance executive director John Kaplanis, the OFAH’s Glenn Rivard and  the MNR, it was much easier for councillors to decipher what was being proposed.

As a long time bow hunter, I understand how effective a well managed bow hunt within the city limits can be.

Although this has been accepted by city council, there will be some tweeking and fine tuning before everything is etched in stone I’m sure. One of the biggest factors is to make sure the public understands what is taking place and why, without reservations and fear of endangerment or safety concerns.

It will be solely up to the land owner if they wish to give written permission to allow a licensed bow hunter onto their property. These hunts will come with set regulations such as hunting from an elevated stand that must be at least three metres off the ground.

This is so the trajectory of an arrow will travel downward towards the ground rather than horizontally. The bow hunter will also have to be at least 75 metres from an inhabited dwelling.

There will not be any bow hunting taking place in the city itself, as some folks may suspect. The proposed area is west of the Expressway and south of the Kam River. These will be semi-rural and rural areas.

The idea of a bow hunt within the city limits may be appalling to some individuals, however, this exact same practice has been in place in Duluth for the last five years and has been very successful in helping reduce deer numbers and ultimately car accidents and property damage.


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