Council pushes hunting ordinance along
Opposition to bow hunting in the city limits was fairly muted at Tuesday’s city council meeting compared to what it had been two weeks prior.
No one from the audience spoke against the ordinance to allow a bow hunters to hunt deer in select wooded areas on the south side of town. However, councilor John Revolinski said he was opposed to the ordinance.
He was the only councilor to vote against moving the ordinance from the second to the third reading. The vote was 5-1 with councilors Michael Halley, Jessica Ledger-Kalen, Martha Rasmussen, Connie Boyer and Tony Hammes voting in favor of the ordinance. Councilor Daryn Hamilton was absent.
Revolinski began by saying that so much good work had gone into crafting the ordinance. Last year, the idea of bow hunting in the city raised many red flags for Revolinski, but most of his worries had been addressed in the new ordinance that clarified the hunt’s location and dates. However, he said his opposition to the ordinance dealt with a more fundamental issue.
“I’m pro-life,” he said. “I just don’t like the idea of killing deer.”
Revolinski said he is aware of the damage deer have done to vehicles. In fact, he ruined his car two weeks ago when he ran into a deer outside the city limits.
“The main thing I thought about was not the poor deer,” he said. “However, it wasn’t intentional. I’d rather live and let live, and if [deer] every once in awhile die on a fender, that’s the way it goes. Many people don’t agree with that, but some do, and I’m voting no.”
Earlier this year, Rasmussen and Revolinski voted against an ordinance to ban feeding deer in the city limits. Rasmussen said she didn’t think the city could enforce such an ordinance. However, she said the time has come to do something about the deer population.
“We need to address the problem in some way,” she said. “This may not be the answer, but at least we’re attempting to solve a problem.”
Three members of the audience spoke in favor of the ordinance.
LaVon Hostetler, who spoke about the ordinance two weeks before, addressed a few of the arguments she’s heard against the ordinance. One of those was that the hunters might only injure the deer and wounded deer would go running through backyards.
Hostetler said she had called several cities with bow hunts and asked them if they’ve had problems with deer “running around with arrows” or dying in backyards. She said none of them had.
At the previous meeting, some people criticized the tests the hunters would have to undergo to participate in the hunt. The test requires the hunter to hit an eight-inch target eight out of 10 times from a distance of 20 yards. The criticism leveled against the test was that it was a stationary target and therefore unlike a deer.
Hostetler said hunters do not shoot at deer while the deer are running.
“They wait in their stand until they can get a perfect shot,” she said. “They don’t want to wound the deer. They want to bring them down very quickly. You don’t get a good shot when the deer are running.”
Fairfield resident Nikki Weaver spoke at the Oct. 28 meeting about managing wildlife in California for 15 years. She said she had success using non-lethal means for controlling animal populations.
Hostetler said Tuesday she believes California is having a difficult time managing its deer population. She talked to an environmental scientist in the state’s fish and game division. The scientist said the state was having a huge problem with deer and that the non-lethal alternatives were not making a dent in the population.
She said in one gated community where deer run rampant, the authorities are catching the female deer and performing hysterectomies on them. Hostetler said the scientist told her even that is not an effective solution.
Hostetler brought up another problem associated with excessive deer, which is a higher incidence of Lyme disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control, deer ticks are known to carry Lyme disease. If an infected tick bites a human, it can cause fever, headache and skin rash. If left untreated, the infection can affect the joints, the heart and the nervous system.
Faifield resident John Roloff spoke about the property damage deer cause, which includes damage to gardens. He was confident the proposed hunt could be done safely.
John Ferguson, another resident, said the city is obligated to ensure public safety. Ferguson lives on the south side of town, and he sees deer in his backyard regularly.
“They cross my driveway and they cross the main street,” he said. “It is a safety issue and it really needs to be addressed.”
The ordinance the council considered Tuesday included an amendment not in the original ordinance, which requires the hunters to cover the deer after they’re shot.
If approved, the hunts would be confined to bows and would occur in three places: on ground owned by the Fairfield Economic Development Association between Jefferson County Park and the Jefferson County Fairgrounds; on land owned by city east of the tennis courts by the middle school; and on land owned by the school district east and south of the high school baseball field.
The council must amend its code of ordinances to allow the hunt because the code forbids residents from firing any sort of projectile, including a slingshot, in the city limits. This would be the first time the city has allowed bow hunting in town.
The trial hunts would occur Dec. 28-29 and Jan. 4-5. Hunters would need to purchase deer tags just as if they were hunting deer in any other location. The police department wants to have four or five hunters participate.