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Erik Burgess, Published June 24 2013

Fargo OKs in-town turkey bow hunting

FARGO – After more than 100 of the birds gobbled up north Fargo last winter, the City Commission on Monday approved an in-town archery turkey season to begin this fall.

The city’s wildlife management program has allowed limited bow hunting of deer within city limits along the Red River corridor for the past several years.

The City Commission added turkeys to the program for 2013-14. The item was on the commission’s consent agenda, which passed 4-0.

Fargo police Lt. Gene Anderson said adding a turkey bow-hunting season is in direct response to the “major influx” of turkeys fouling up north Fargo residential neighborhoods near Peterson Parkway and Birdie Street.

North Dakota Game and Fish Department officials trapped 125 turkeys in Fargo last winter, said biologist Doug Leier.

“I was amazed at what I saw,” said Anderson, who administers the police’s wildlife management program.

“They congregated in yards, and one of the homeowners called and said, ‘I can’t even let my kids go outside and build a snowman because the snow is literally covered with turkey droppings,’ ” Anderson said.

The amended ordinance passed Monday changed the city’s “deer management program” to the “wildlife management program,” adding a permit for the limited bow hunting of turkeys along the Red River corridor.

Anderson said the state Game and Fish Department recommended the change.

The city’s wildlife management program now allows for 25 deer and 25 turkey permits in what is called Region One, the area along the Red River between 16th and 35th avenues north.

It also allows for 20 deer and 20 turkey permits in Region Two, along the Red between 21st and 58th avenues south.

An aerial survey done by the Game and Fish on Feb. 28 found 75 turkeys from Cass County Highway 22 to the mouth of the Wild Rice River, Leier said. The same survey done in 2011 found only 10 turkeys in the same area, he said.

While the program will “alleviate some of the frustration” of residents, Leier warned the feathery nuisance can’t be fixed overnight.

Residents may not notice a drastic and immediate change to the turkey population, but declaring an archery turkey season will eventually reduce the breeding population, slowing the expansion of the population into the future, Leier said.

Anderson said there are strict restrictions in the ordinance that go “above and beyond state law” because the program allows hunting within city limits.

Archers will be required to hunt from a stand with an elevation of at least 10 feet, Anderson said.

“So that their arrow’s trajectory is down, so that if they do miss a target, the arrow will stick in the ground rather than skip or go flying,” he said.

Archers who want to hunt on private property in either of the two regions must have written permission from the property owner. The hunter must have the written permission with them while hunting in case they are stopped by police, Anderson said.

Adding turkeys to the wildlife management program is a trial run, Anderson said. After each season, he compiles a report based on information from hunters and Game and Fish officials. The City Commission can use that report to decide if it wants to continue the program.

The program is renewed annually so changes can be made if needed, Anderson said.

“Our goal is try to manage the wildlife, not to try to eradicate it,” Anderson said. “So we’re not trying to get rid of all these animals, just try to manage them in a number that can exist in this area without being problematic.”

Commissioner Brad Wimmer was absent from Monday night’s meeting.

According to the ordinance:

The in-town turkey season begins 30 minutes before sunrise on Sept. 14 and ends at sunset Jan. 31. The in-town deer season begins at noon on Aug. 30 and ends 30 minutes after sunset on Jan. 31.

Legal shooting hours run concurrent with the Game and Fish regulations.

Participants in the city’s wildlife management program must pass an archery safety course, obtain a permit from the city and obtain a special archery license and tag from the state Game and Fish Department.

Before it becomes law, the amended ordinance requires a public publishing, which will likely happen within the next two weeks, said City Attorney Erik Johnson.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518