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Just one more year, hunters plead

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Hunters reacting to an updated access map thought it was random, arbitrary and doesn’t reflect the reality of what’s happening on parcels where the city wants to prohibit hunting. 

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Woodbury public safety and community development came up with the new map that closes off areas south of Bailey Road and west of Woodbury Drive to hunters as the city gets ready to open up that land for development.

The development area, dubbed Phase 2B, is a sub-phase of the larger Phase 2 field on the land-use plan that Woodbury plans to build out in the next several years.

Avid hunters aren’t convinced those parcels will begin seeing construction activity right away and pleaded with the city at a Wednesday, May 21, meeting to give them one more hunting season.

“We love it, it’s our passion, if we can get one more year out of it … ” Lee Swanson said. “Is it too much to ask to let us hunt one more year?”

But others living in nearby wooded neighborhoods were concerned with other coloring on the map that represents areas still open for bow and arrow hunting.

“If all hunting on our platted property is not banned starting this year, you can wait until there is property damage, or worse, that you have blood on your hands,” Karl Karst wrote in an email to the city. “Your choice.”

Woodbury officials listened to hunting concerns last fall when many residents around Bailey Lake complained of early morning noise as hunters targeted the lake to shoot geese.

Others like Karst brought an arrow he found in a tree on his property to show the council evidence of potentially dangerous bow and arrow hunting near his property.

The hunting map was updated from a 2008 version to a new one last fall. It allowed hunting in some parcels and restricted it in others to reflect new development activity.

Because the issue came up in the midst of hunting season, the council had planned to revisit the hunting access map in the spring and to also give public safety and community development time to draw new lines.

The updated May 2014 map completely closes off big chunks south of Bailey Road, but it allows hunting in some parcels south of Dale Road and west of Radio Drive with landowner permission and a permit. There are still areas open to hunting with landowner permission that don’trequire a permit south of Dale Road and east of Cottage Grove Drive.

The previously controversial Bailey Lake area is now closed to hunting, according to the new map.

City Administrator Clint Gridley said regardless of how lines are drawn, there will always be tension between the various groups: those who want to hunt, and others who don’t.

“Hunting in a suburban community is usually challenging to begin with,” he said.

Woodbury Public Safety Director Lee Vague said he looked through all police call logs and didn’t see reports of safety concerns or suspicious activity in areas where residents say bow and arrow deer hunting is a problem.

Ann Wendling said she was disappointed in the council’s response to the hunting concerns in her neighborhood especially because she’s experienced problems with deer hunters. She was hoping the new map would reflect her feedback.

“If you have to wait for a call, what kind of call are you waiting for? A personal injury call,” she said.

Vague said he simply went by what officers have experienced and drew lines based on police logs as well as the work with city planners to restrict hunting in parcels poised to see new home construction in the next year.

“It’s not my desire to destroy that heritage,” he told hunters, noting that the new map gives the city some lead time and flexibility instead of coming in mid-season to respond to complaints.

“We need to have clarity, we need to have foreknowledge,” added Gridley.

City Council directed staff to draw a new map that allows hunting in some parcels for another season this fall in the Phase 2B area where new homes will not likely be built for another year.

A new map will be presented at an upcoming City Council meeting.

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Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.
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