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Viewpoint: Woodbury’s hunting laws troublingly lax

Some enjoy our neighborhood deer. Others feel they are eating us out of house and yard and are a traffic hazard - and so have given bow hunters permission to hunt on their property. Over objections of some residents, the City Council recently approved the hunting map, so archery hunting will again be permitted from Sept. 14 to Dec. 31 in our southwest corner of Woodbury. A look at the map shows how dense some of this development is (  

In a recent anonymous neighborhood survey, 19 voted to ban hunting and 14 to allow it. Opinions differ, but we all care about safety - for our kids, grandkids, pets, each other. When surveying Minnesota cities which allow bow hunting, Woodbury is an anomaly as it has basically no restrictions. If you show up with a state archery license (available with just a driver’s license, except for youth) and a landowner’s permission, the city allows you to hunt here, no questions asked. Two hunters in our area were found to be using crossbows, which are considered more lethal than standard bows and for which the hunter must have a DNR “disability permit.” But no one in our city asks the potential hunter if they’re using a crossbow, or then checks if they have the permit. 

Other cities require one or more of the following: a buffer zone around neighboring property lines/buildings; that the area hunted be of a minimum size; that the hunter only shoot from an elevated position so an arrow’s trajectory is into the ground; proof of training/certification; a shorter duration for bow hunting than that allowed by the state, often performed by certified sharpshooters. 

Our next-door suburbs are concerned about residents’ safety. Newport: Land must be a minimum of 5 contiguous acres. Hunters must complete a Metro Bowhunters Proficiency Test each year. A buffer zone. Cottage Grove: Land 5-acre minimum. Hunting from elevation of 6 feet. No arrows can leave the property being hunted.

Three neighbors who don’t allow hunting have found arrows on their property - one embedded in a tree. One hunter sets up his tree stand along a deer path by the property line. (He suggested the neighbors keep their dog inside when he’s hunting.) Deer with arrows have run through, or expired in, neighbors’ yards. One resident came upon a hunter gutting a deer when investigating a gunshot. He believes the hunter “finished off” the deer with a gun - against Woodbury’s firearms ordinance. He also found a deer blind on the ground on his own unpermitted property, from which arrows were shot upward. The person had cut down growth for shooting lanes, and left plentiful trash. Obviously not every bow hunter is being responsible.

Residents have researched safety concerns and presented them to the council. Errant arrows have been displayed at meetings. A city official stated that the current Council has no interest in changing our hunting ordinances - or, more to the point, writing some. But they are our elected officials; shouldn’t they have interest in our safety? Property owners have been told to call 911 if they feel there’s a problem. Do we really want to wait until there’s a 911 emergency to implement some regulations? We expect our city to proactively protect us. Amazingly, the city official also said that having no such rules in Woodbury is better, as then law enforcement has more “flexibility.” Maybe we should do away with all traffic laws in the city; that should provide even more flexibility.  

If not a buffer zone, then we propose requiring permission from neighbors adjacent to those properties allowing hunters. Every lot in this area is not large; for instance, one in the Crackleberry area is 1.3 acres, long and narrow. But with our one-size-fits-all rules, everything can be hunted. Requiring shooting from an elevated position is a no-brainer, according to responsible bow hunters. We support a proficiency test such as Newport has.

If hunting is to be allowed, it should be done in as safe a manner as possible. Having none of these protections whatsoever is irresponsible and dangerous. It’s become open season on us, out here in Woodbury’s Wild (South)West. 

— Cliff & Carol Turnbull, Larry & Ann Wendling, Karl & Patt Karst, Pete & Barb Fleming, Becky Amble, Jim Frisco, Brian & Lisa Citak, John & Colleen Kraemer, Ron & Kathy Szybatka, Dawn Friedrich, Jim & Barb Carufel, Karen Lamphere and Linda Walling, all of Woodbury