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New Woodbury hunting map approved despite outcry from residents

Residents from every direction of Bailey Lake expressed opposition to a new hunting map the Woodbury City Council approved Wednesday.

The new map is an update to one approved in 2008, which officials say was outdated and didn’t accurately reflect development happening since then.

The new map restricts hunting in some northeastern parts of Woodbury and in a big chunk south of Bailey Road. Hunting is allowed on restricted parcels with the appropriate permits and landowner permission, and completely illegal in areas marked closed like city parks and high density residential neighborhoods.

A few low density areas in Woodbury are still open to hunting under state law.

Almost a dozen residents living near Bailey Lake, a restricted area, spoke at the City Council meeting about how goose, duck and waterfowl hunting taking place there is a nuisance to the neighborhood and a safety issue.

One person brought a big hunk of wood with an arrow in it that he found 170 feet from his property line near Military Road in southern Woodbury.

“I don’t walk in my yard where people allow hunting for several months in the fall,” said Karl Karst, adding that he’s had requests from hunters to use his property which sits in a restricted area on the new map.

“I don’t believe hunting should be allowed in any platted area in Woodbury,” he said. “This is a perfect example of what can happen.”

Others said a law prohibiting shooting within 500 feet of a building should be changed in an area where homes sit on three-acre lots.

“We feel that the risk to the people that live there is not at all worth the slight benefit,” said Kathy Jorgensen, who lives on the south end of Bailey Lake. “Now is the time to make other changes.”

One said shotguns fired early in the morning and late at night on weekends are not only dangerous but a nuisance to someone who suffers from sleep disorders.

“I have grandchildren now and there is no way I’m going to let them go outside,” said Duane Heng, who lives on the southeast end of the lake.

But hunter Cory Villaume said accusations that he and his fellow hunters don’t have the necessary permits and permission from landowners are false.

He said the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Woodbury police department and landowners where he hunts in the Bailey Lake area have all checked the activity that takes place and that it’s all 100 percent legal.

“There is no pellets anywhere because they don’t even make it across the lake,” he said, adding, “We’re not shooting guns in the dark, that’s preposterous.”

Woodbury Public Safety Director Lee Vague said the department has already been looking at the state of development in specific parcels before issuing permits every year. Permits weren’t issued based on the old map if it didn’t make sense to do so.

“I don’t have a legal reason to tell them they can’t hunt,” he said.

City Council Member Amy Scoggins said she understands the safety issue and put herself in the complainants’ shoes.

“If it were me, I wouldn’t want anyone shooting 500 feet of my property line, not just my house,” she said.

The DNR regulates distance, dates and time of day when hunting is allowed, so Vague said restricting hunting beyond that is more of a quality of life issue than a safety issue.

“They do have permission to hunt,” he told the City Council. “The question is what you already heard from residents as far as quality of life.”

City officials said they understood both sides of the argument, but it makes sense to approve the new map without changes in the middle of fall hunting season, and have it reflect the most recent development and population growth in the city until further discussion next April.

Council Member Christopher Burns said the last time the map was being discussed, just one resident gave input and it was to make sure he was allowed to hunt.

“I certainly think that we have seen it would be beneficial to have clarification,” he said, as he pointed out slivers of land where hunting was allowed per the 2008 map, that’s no longer the case in the new 2013 one.

Scoggins agreed and said the council doesn’t typically make “knee-jerk” types of decision since it previously discussed this map before the final vote.

The council unanimously approved the new 2013 map, but also encouraged residents to continue calling public safety if they spot illegal or dangerous activity.

“By all means if you discover an arrow in your tree, call us,” Burns said.

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.