A helicopter flies low over a wooded area near Southbridge Road on De Pere's southwest side during an aerial survey conducted in February to assess the deer population in the city. / File/Gannett Wisconsin Media
If you go
The hunting issue is not expected to be on the agenda when the City Council meets at city hall at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
It will, however, be on the agenda when the Board of Park Commissioners meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at city hall.
Bob Janssen and his family hunted for years on his 120-acre family farm in the town of Rockland.
When the land was annexed to the city of De Pere a half-dozen years ago, the Janssens kept right on hunting without giving it a thought.
But firing a gun is prohibited in city limits and Janssenís son-in-law, Ben Wozniak, nearly found that out the hard way a year ago.
ďA cop stopped him,Ē Janssen said. ďOf course, he didnít fire his gun at all, so they didnít arrest him. They just told him he couldnít do it.Ē
Janssen said he didnít know that he had given up his right to hunt with firearms on the property. Now he and Wozniak are trying to persuade the city to make an exception. The property is surrounded on three sides by Rockland farmland, and thereís nothing to see but clear fields south of Janssenís house, he said.
The cityís Finance-Personnel Committee issued a split vote this week, with two members voting yes and two voting no to Janssenís request. That means the issue will go to the City Council without a recommendation, said committee member Mike Donovan, who served as acting chairman of the committee meeting.
The council wonít take it up at its Tuesday meeting, though, Donovan said. Instead, the committee has asked the Board of Park Commissioners to weigh in on it. The parks board ó of which Donovan also is a member ó already has been working on a larger issue concerning hunting in the city: What to do about nuisance deer?
City officials have been receiving increasing numbers of complaints about deer in the city limits. It recently pooled money with surrounding communities to hire a helicopter to conduct a deer census to find whether the deer population is high enough to justify some kind of controlled hunt.
Conducted last month, the count checked areas on both sides of the river in De Pere and found just 10 deer on the east side, around St. Norbert Abbey and the East River Trail. On the west side, however, the fly-by found 109 deer ó 61 around Southwest Park and The Preserve conservancy off Lawrence Drive, 33 in the Kiwanis Park area and 15 near St. Norbert College.
Parks director Marty Kosobucki, who took part in the count, has been conferring with the state Department of Natural Resources to discuss the cityís options.
His findings will be part of the discussion at the meeting of the Board of Park Commissioners next week.
Thatís likely to involve some kind of bow and crossbow hunting, probably not firearms, Donovan said.
Bow- and crossbow-hunting have been legal within the city limits since December, when a state law passed and pre-empted local bans, De Pere City Attorney Judy Schmidt-Lehman said. Certain safety requirements are included in the state law, but the city is allowed to prohibit such hunting on city property, which it does, she said.
City officials will consider whether easing its restrictions may be an option for controlling nuisance deer, she said.
Under the state exemption, Janssenís family can keep hunting on their farmland, but only with a bow or crossbow, Schmidt-Lehman said.
Janssen said his family may consider doing that, but heís holding out hope that the city allows them to resume firearm hunting on the property.
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