Benny Polacca, Published September 06 2007
First a threat, then an eviction: Pet ducks to go
The Lanums, who moved to Barnesville from Fargo earlier this year, want the City Council to revise the ordinance so ducks Winnie and Babbles can stay. Their latest effort – filing a petition last month asking for changes to the ordinance – failed Wednesday.
During a special meeting, Mayor Ken Bauer asked the six City Council members if they wanted to revisit the pet ordinance.
The Lanums’ petition and a counter-petition filed by two city residents on Aug. 13 contained enough valid signatures to reconsider the ordinance, Bauer said.
“I’m going to proceed to entertain a motion to re-examine our animal ordinance as it now stands,” he said.
The council remained silent.
Councilman Kim Simonsen broke the silence by asking for discussion on the motion, but Bauer declined. “I think everything that’s been said has been said,” Bauer said of the pet ordinance.
The council voted 5-1 in June against changing the pet ordinance that only allows dogs, cats, gerbils, hamsters and caged birds.
Residents opposed to changing the ordinance are concerned about disease being spread by the ducks and that other people will ask for exceptions for other animals not included in the ordinance.
Bauer repeated his request for a motion two more times. Council members were silent both times.
Bauer then ruled that the Lanums’ petition was denied for a lack of motion. “It is now in the Police Department’s hands to enforce our animal ordinance.”
“Obviously this is disappointing,” Eric Lanum said after leaving City Hall. “We don’t know what our next move is.”
In a related development, the Lanums and their ducks faced threats in an incident Saturday.
Barnesville police and Clay County sheriff’s deputies responded to the Lanums’ neighborhood around 12:20 a.m. after a man approached the Lanum residence and threatened the ducks.
Robert Jerome Hilgers, 38, was arrested when police determined he was drinking and driving at the time of the incident, court papers say. His blood-alcohol content was reported to be 0.21 percent.
He drove up to the house with the headlights off and said, “I’m going to shoot those (expletive) ducks,” Jeana Lanum said of Hilgers. She also said someone let the air out of her vehicle’s tires.
Hilgers was charged with two counts of DWI and one count of disorderly conduct after being arrested, court papers say.
“It’s been five months of pure hell,” Jeana Lanum said after Wednesday’s meeting. Three weeks after moving to Barnesville, city officials notified the Lanums that they were violating the ordinance.
At the time, Bauer asked law enforcement to hold off on any action against the Lanums until the ordinance issue was resolved.
Police Chief Dean Ernst gave the Lanums until Monday to get rid of the ducks or face a misdemeanor charge for violating the ordinance.
The Lanums said they would be moving from Barnesville, but did not say where they would go.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Benny Polacca at (701) 241-5504