Hoping to stem an apparent deer boom in Highland Park, St. Paul parks officials plan to send bow hunters for the third time there this fall to weed out the herd.
Three hunters will occupy deer stands in a secluded area Monday through Wednesday, in hopes of removing four to six deer from among the 25 thought to be encamped in the woodsy park and surrounding area, said Adam Robbins, an environmental coordinator with the Parks and Recreation Department.
"We decided to proceed with a third hunt in December because we want to go where the deer are," Robbins said. "We only had two hunters in the area in October and November and they saw a lot of deer."
An aerial survey done by Ramsey County this fall found 25 deer in an 84-acre area generally bounded by W. 7th Street, St. Paul and Montreal Avenues, Edgcumbe Road and Lexington Parkway.
State guidelines suggest an area that size should support only two to three deer, Robbins said.
"Most of the deer are found in parkland, but there are a lot of wooded areas, not park property, that are included in the survey area," he said.
Since 2008, St. Paul has enlisted volunteers with Metro Bowhunters Resource Base in Circle Pines to control deer numbers in Battle Creek, Crosby Farm and Pig's Eye regional parks near the Mississippi River, and the Highwood Hills district in the city's southeast corner. The bowhunters don't charge the city.
The city has conducted controlled hunts at Crosby Farm park for several years, including twice this fall.
But surveys suggest that deer are moving from Crosby Farm park into the Highland area, probably because of the tasty gardens and landscape trees in the neighborhood, Robbins said.
That prompts complaints from residents that range from yard damage to vehicle collisions.
Before this year, bow hunters had not been sent to Highland Park. The archery season for deer ends Dec. 31.
Robbins said that it's unrealistic to expect that more than a few deer can be taken out with arrows over three days. The main thing is to make room for the arrival of fawns, he said.
"Our goal right now is maintenance. If we're lucky and we can reduce the population, that's great," Robbins said.