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Bloomington Council Still Far From Passing Deer Legislation

The Bloomington City Council must pass an ordinance before the city takes any action to control the deer population.

Bloomington City Council members say despite accepting a report from the city’s deer task force which recommends killing deer to help control their numbers, it could be hard to pass legislation which loosens restrictions on hunting within city limits.

“Facilitating a hunt within city limits will be a challenge,” says city council president Tim Mayer. He says one thing the report does well is set out guidelines for what would be required to safely attempt to cull deer.  “Acreage size, there’s a backstop required.”

Councilmen Marty Spechler and Darryl Neher say it could be easier to sanction hunting in outlying areas of the city, especially around Griffy Lake. Spechler says thinning the herd in more wooded areas such as Griffy might be the most that trap-and-kill and bowhunting advocates can expect.

“I dare say that there will be no increased hunting of any kind within the built-up part of Bloomington,” he says. “I mean, that’s just not safe.  I don’t think people will want that.”

Mayer also cautions the city has not budgeted any money for deer repulsion and the city’s parks and recreation leaders have not given their seal of approval to any plan yet. Bloomington City Council Vice President Susan Sandberg says that does not mean no changes will be made in 2013.

“There are plenty of things we can do by way of ordinance that can mitigate some of the urban deer problem, as far as fence heights and bans on feeding,” she says. “Just a general education of the population on how to discourage deer, how to lessen your risks.”

Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan, a longtime opponent of hunting deer in the city limits, says he is reserving judgment on the city council accepting a document from the Bloomington Deer Task Force which recommends thinning the herd in the city.

If the city council passes anything that allows killing, the measure goes to Kruzan’s desk.  While he stopped short of saying Thursday he would not sign any law allowing deer to be hunted in the city, Kruzan did say he felt the task force was presented with an almost insurmountable task in writing its report.

“It didn’t address the main concern I have and that is that hunting within city limits would simply change the nature of the community,” he says. “And that’s something that no task force can really address.”

Kruzan says a plan to control the deer population could eventually cost the city as much as $100,000 a year, which is a figure he says could dissuade legislative action.

Wes Martin contributed to this report.

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