Anoka is establishing a new wildlife management policy that will allow deer hunting on King’s Island.
The deer population on the 60-acre island is estimated at 13, well above the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recommended 10 to 20 deer for every square mile, said Public Services Director Greg Lee.
Those deer are moving into the community, being seen on city streets and in residential neighborhoods. And they are colliding with vehicles on Highway 10.
“There have been 10 deer/car collisions in the last year,” said Lee.
According to Lee, urban areas lack natural predators that keep a species in balance, which can result in an overpopulation of deer resulting in overgrazing to the detriment of other species native to the area.
In an effort to manage that population, the city would like to allow an archery deer hunt on King’s Island, located along the Mississippi River near the border of the cities of Anoka and Ramsey.
“Letting hunters do what they do best is the simplest, easiest and most cost effective way to do this,” Lee told the council during a work session meeting last week.
Based on the DNR’s data, King’s Island could adequately support only one or two deer.
“Those numbers are based on prime habitats,” said Councilmember Jeff Weaver. “You run out of qualified habitat pretty quick with those numbers.”
The policy was drafted with the help of Jeff Perry, park operations manager for Anoka County, which also allows hunting to control deer populations in some of its regional parks. Following state law, the city’s parks department would administer the hunt by special permit, only allowing one hunter per 20 acres on the island.
“Culling wildlife is pretty common in suburbs,” said City Manager Tim Cruikshank during last week’s work session.
But Becky Sandstedt, who lives near King’s Island in Ramsey, is angry with the city for allowing hunting within its limits. She has attended several meetings, calling on the council to ban all hunting, including the new duck season near the island it recently approved.
“There shouldn’t be hunting period,” said Sandstedt. “This is a sanctuary.”
The deer are being found on roads and residential areas “because humans are coming into their home,” she said.
She called archery hunting, “cruel, brutal, the most pain causing kind of hunting.”
According to Sandstedt, deer injured by a bow and arrow would likely take off running toward Highway 10.
“Put a bow and arrow to a deer and that deer is going to run,” Sandstedt said.
Sandstedt also opposes the city’s plans to increase recreational opportunities on King’s Island. Anoka has been awarded grant money to dredge the channel that feeds a small interior lake as well as funding for a pedestrian and bike trailway connecting Anoka and Ramsey.
Sandstedt said she visits King’s Island often and picks up garbage left behind by homeless living in the area as well as people who use it as a secluded spot for a party.
The wildlife management policy was unanimously supported by the council.
“It’s not that we don’t love the animals, but there comes a time when you have to reclaim your territory,” said Councilmember Mark Freeburg.
The policy does not address issues with other wildlife that may be a nuisance to those who live in the city.
According to Police Chief Phil Johanson, if a homeowner has a problem with an animal like a muskrat or a raccoon they should call the Anoka Police Department. Community service officers will then be dispatched with a live trap or snare.
Johanson said animals caught in the traps are then released at the Anoka Nature Preserve, north of the high school.
Mandy Moran Froemming is at firstname.lastname@example.org