8/15/2013 3:04:00 PM Taylors Falls council discusses bear control
by PAUL RIGNELL
As families in Taylors Falls have walked the city streets with children and pets this past spring and summer, they have spotted members of an area bear population with notable frequency, based on calls made to city officials more than a dozen times since the spring, Mayor Mike Buchite said during the Aug. 12 City Council meeting. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has shifted responsibility for bear control to local governments, but DNR officials have reported this summer that there appear to be four bears concentrated north of Highway 95 and south of County Road 37. The studied population includes “one very large male” bear, Mayor Buchite said.
The DNR has suggested residents could deter bears from entering their properties by bringing in private bird feeders after each day, and not storing garbage outside overnight, according to city staff. But the mayor said people have spotted bears in yards long after daybreak, with some of the animals raiding bird feeders between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. Council members considered one option for response Aug. 12 presented by a Princeton man who has proposed setting live traps for bear. The traps are monitored electronically, and a bear is euthanized immediately when captured in a cage. The city’s cost would range from $600 to $800 per bear. The council decided not to pursue that option for now, and instead will wait for a report on success that hunters might have with firearms during the upcoming bear season which begins Sept. 1.
This is the first year, according to city officials, that the state is allowing agricultural land owners to open their fields for bear hunting, and Mayor Buchite said some ag land owners in Taylors Falls have reached agreement with a group of five hunters for bear control this fall. Based on what he had learned, the mayor said bears are attracted to field corn as it becomes milky in the fall. However, it is also legal for hunters to bait for bear in Minnesota (unlike the restrictions placed on hunting for deer or other animals), and the mayor said that the bear hunters would be placing doughnuts or pastries at their sites to further draw the sweet-tooth cravings of the bears. The baiting could start Aug. 10.
The mayor noted there have been reports of deaths from bear attacks in both Minnesota and Wisconsin over the past year, and he said that he wants to prevent that type of tragedy in Taylors Falls. “I hope and pray that nobody gets hurt, and the hunters are successful,” Mayor Buchite said. “It seems to be the most intelligent way to resolve this problem,” City Council member John Tangen said. Council member Ross Rivard said he would like the city to keep the consideration of live trapping on the table as needed in the future. Other city business • Council approved a process to take applications from archers for the bow hunting of deer, which season runs Sept. 14 to Dec. 31. Licensed archers (minimum age 18) can pay a $5 administrative fee to the city for connections with land owners who have agreed to allow bow hunting on their properties.
Sixteen residential land owners opened their lots for this deer control in 2012, according to documents shared at the Aug. 12 meeting. The archers must use raised platforms at least 10 feet up from the ground, and they must stay a minimum 100 feet from all neighboring structures. For more than half of the years from 2004 to 2012, the city issued between 11 and 16 annual permits for bow hunting of deer. The city issued a record 27 permits in 2008, and just eight in 2012, but the archers also hit and tagged six deer last year (third most in the history).
• Council approved licenses for the sale of electronic cigarettes at Rivertown E-Cig, which is about to open at 196 First St., and cigars at Schoony’s Malt Shop and Pizzeria, 384 Bench St.
• Council approved $86 in reimbursable mileage for City Clerk-Treasurer Jo Everson to attend a Minnesota Department of Revenue conference 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Oct. 10 at St. Cloud State University. Everson will learn about new document requirements for a sales tax exemption that the Legislature passed for cities and counties in the 2013 session. Her round-trip distance to St. Cloud is estimated at 155 miles, payable at 55.5 cents per mile.