FARGO — The Fargo City Commission approved a study group to further examine the potential dangers and benefits of the city's 15-year-old urban bow hunting program for deer and turkeys.
The Fargo Police Department will create the group that will include representatives from the Fargo Park District and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
They will further discuss the issues and recommend potential program options and oversight on the "wildlife management program," with a report to be presented to city commissioners at their Sept. 7 meeting.
In a public hearing on the issue last week, nine speakers favored continuing the program that allows 45 bow hunters to sit in tree stands along the Red River each year. The program is conducted in an estimated area of about 470 acres in the city limits. It starts in the fall and runs through Jan. 31.
Only one person spoke out against the program at the hearing, and there were four emails opposed to the effort. Twenty-three emails supported continuing the program, said Police Chief David Zibolski.
Those favoring the program said it helped control the deer population and thus helped prevent some property damage, the program is safe with no reports of any injuries with errant arrows, homeowners near the river favor the program and other larger cities safely conduct similar programs.
Commissioner Tony Gehrig also emphasized there have been no accidents, adding it's a highly successful program.
Several hunters sought to expand the program to give more tags to hunters who have a track record of harvesting deer and generally allow more hunters, as many said it was hard to get one of the 45 permits.
The bow hunters in the doe-only program have harvested 352 deer over 15 years and nine turkeys since that program started in 2013.
Other suggestions were to partner with an archery club to improve proficiency of hunters and to require lighted nocks on arrows to improve recovery of missed shots.
Gehrig said each arrow has to have the name of the hunter on it, and there was only one complaint from a person who found an arrow outside their home.
As for those opposed, the comments were that bow hunting was inhumane, the 140 lost arrows pose a risk to the public, liability was too high and at least one person didn't feel comfortable in the hunting zones.
At Monday's meeting, resident Christopher Coen asked if the city had liability insurance in case someone was injured. He also said there was no data to confirm concerns about deer hitting vehicles or complaints about landscape being affected in residential areas.
Gehrig said he wanted to make sure the program was left intact until the group comes up with possible adjustments.
One possible change is to ban bow hunting in some pedestrian areas along the river, Zibolski said