Roseville planning another deer cull


file photo • Following a January 2017 deer cull in which 20 animals were killed, on April 9 the Roseville City Council approved another cull of 20 animals to be carried out between October and January 2019.

Last January, United States Department of Agriculture sharpshooters hired by the City of Roseville shot and killed 20 deer in a single night in order to reduce the city’s herd.

Now, following a count of the animals carried out earlier this year, the Roseville City Council has once again given the go-ahead for another deer cull of 20 animals, to be carried out between October and January, 2019.

Roseville’s deer herd has been the topic of discussions at City Hall dating back to at least 2015, when the council put in place a wild animal feeding ban and the framework that led to the 2017 cull.

By now the issues caused by deer in the city are familiar. Some residents say that too many haunt their yards, shredding gardens and scarfing flowers, while posing a risk to drivers on neighborhood streets. 

Others say they enjoy the city’s wildlife or are opposed to killing animals in general — they also remind folks that Roseville is a suburban setting with open green spaces, and some wild encounters should be expected.

 

Counting deer

At their April 9 meeting, city council members heard again from Parks and Recreation Director Lonnie Brokke about the latest deer herd count. 

Ramsey County counts the animals from the air in a helicopter following a fresh snow when deer are more visible. Brokke commented that the “flyover is not real scientific” and that it likely reveals a minimum number of city deer—2018’s number was 43 deer.

That’s down from the 52 animals counted in 2016, the year preceding the initial cull, Brokke said, but still more than double the number of healthy deer the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says Roseville can sustain. 

With three quarters of a square mile of suitable deer habitat in the city, as estimated by the DNR, Roseville’s deer herd should number between 15 and 19 animals. The size of the city’s herd peaked in 2014, Brokke said, with 61 animals counted.

Most of the deer counted were in the Lake Josephine, Lake Owasso and Reservoir Woods areas, Brokke said, with the future cull focusing on the same zones.

As for the 2017 cull, Brokke said it all happened the night of Jan. 31. Based on analysis of the 16 female and four male deer taken, the herd was said to be unhealthy. The harvested deer meat was donated to area food shelves.

Brokke said the cull cost just more than half as much as expected because it was done so efficiently, coming in at roughly $3,800, or around $190 per animal taken.

With its first cull, Roseville joined many of its neighbors in deer population management. Similar actions, by sharpshooters or bowhunters, are carried out in Maplewood, Little Canada, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Minneapolis and St. Paul.

 

Finding a balance

Council member Tammy McGehee, who abstained from the eventual unanimous vote in favor of the cull, restated her long-held opposition to killing deer and floated alternatives.

“We could certainly shoot them with some form of birth control,” she said, pointing out that if the animals must be killed, then only taking female deer is most efficient.

During previous council deer discussions residents who share McGehee’s stance spoke out, but this time around, those who went before the council were decidedly pro-cull.

Despite the cull — even the day after it, one resident said — large groups of deer are seen standing in yards and moving through neighborhoods.

“It’s frustrating and irritating,” said one resident, while another raised the specter of fear of a distracted driver being injured during a vehicle-deer crash. Brokke said he was unaware of any such serious accidents, though the city does receive reports of non-serious, at least for the human, deer and car collisions.

Mayor Dan Roe said he supported looking at alternatives to culls, including birth control for does, and others on the council said they would like to continue having the city’s deer population management work backed up by facts, such as aerial counts and information from the DNR.

Questions about the actual size of the city’s deer herd also floated around, with council member Jason Etten attempting to offer some perspective.

“If we do theoretically have 43 and we take 20, then we’re taking half the herd,” he said, adding, “There is a portion of our population that enjoys having the wildlife, so looking for a stable population should be the goal.”


 

– Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813

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