Council to look into controlling Austin deer population

Published 8:10 am Sunday, April 30, 2017

Oh, deer. The Austin City Council is looking into its options for controlling the deer population in the city of Austin.

Jeanine Vorland, an area Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wildlife supervisor, will speak to the council about deer populations during a work session Monday following the council’s 5:30 p.m. regular meeting at City Hall, 500 Fourth Ave. NE. Council member Steve King brought the issue up briefly at a past work session, asking for the council to discuss the concerns he’s heard for several years that deer are eating through trees and shrubs on lawns, especially near waterways and wooded areas.

“Some think they’re cute, some think they’re ravenous beasts that eat all their plants,” King told the council at a past meeting. “And I’ve started to sway toward ravenous beasts, because I was a cute deer guy.”

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A homeowner called King to his property and showed him that he’d spent hundreds on plantings last year, but deer ate them down to the bark, even after he wrapped them with net and burlap.

The man and a neighbor agree they’ve had 35 to 50 deer in their yards.

“The deer population’s getting to be costing real homeowners’ money,” King said.

The people will also have many deer droppings in their yards, and the deer will come right up to the door and look in their windows and won’t leave when shooed away.

Council expected to pass Sunday sale times

The council is expected to approve Sunday liquor sales matching the state of Minnesota.

The council voted 5-1 in April with David Hagen voting no and Judy Enright abstaining to follow the state’s off-sale liquor hours of 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., which will begin July 1. However, the motion failed because a unanimous vote is required at a council meeting on first reading.

A current city ordinance bans liquor sales on Sundays; however, the state bill allowing Sunday liquor sales passed last month.

Cities are not allowed to completely restrict Sunday sales under the new law, but the city could opt to reduce the hours for Sunday sales. However, City Clerk Ann Kasel noted the city has recently taken steps to keep city ordinances consistent with state laws.

Last year, the City Council voted to change the city ordinance to allow liquor stores to stay open until 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday to match the state.

Previously, liquor stores had been required to close at 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Should no one change their vote, the ordinance would pass 5-1 Monday.

In other business, the council will discuss:

—Plans to bring sewer system up to compliance in the St. Michael Addition of Lansing Township. A few property owners are interested in annexation to the city of Austin.

—Planning and Zoning Administrator Holly Wallace will discuss ways to address hazardous and blighted properties in the city.