North Mankato resident pushes for deer population control (with video) | Local News

NORTH MANKATO — In the wooded area surrounding his six-plus-acre property near Spring Lake Park, North Mankato resident Tom Hagen blocked off a section of vegetation with a fence.

“I put this in place a year and a half ago so deer couldn’t get in there,” he said.

Hagen has been at odds with the town of North Mankato for nearly eight years over white-tailed deer on his property. The problem, Hagen said, is deer eating the vegetation in his yard, which he says creates environmental problems.

Hagen will soon take another step by advocating for population control, which the city has said it will not pursue. He will attend a meeting of Nicollet County Council this month to ask the commissioners for a reduction in the value of a parcel on his property.

He has already driven to town for help with deer control and said he received little support. Now, he hopes the diminishing value of the property will help his case.

Hagen said the value of his property initially increased.

“I felt like the property I live on in particular has seen its value go down due to the fact that a serious deer problem has opened up the area to erosion. Anyone who would like to buy this property and could see the difficulty might not be willing to buy.

Hagen said he first went to the Appeals and Equalization Board.

“I did my business. They suggested I approach the county commissioners themselves as they also need to be aware of this issue,” he said. “They refused the request and now I will go to the board to see what they do.”

Hagen said there has been a lot of back and forth with the city. This is not a new situation for Hagen, who regularly attends council meetings where he is known to speak out.

“The town of North Mankato, until recently, was totally reluctant to do anything. The mayor would not come to look into this problem. The city administrator would not come. Now both are gone or going to go,” he said, referring to former administrator John Harrenstein taking a job in Iowa and Mayor Mark Dehen who is running for county commissioner instead — against Hagen. .

Acting City Administrator Mike Fischer has visited the Hagen property over the past month.

“He saw the problem,” Hagen said. “So for once we really have someone who has seen the problem. One of the city council members came to take a look but refused to do anything.

In an emailed statement to The Free Press, Fischer wrote: “In summary, my only involvement with this issue thus far has been to visit the property at the request of Mr. Hagen, which I have do. After that visit, I called the Department of Natural Resources to discuss the matter with them and still haven’t heard from them.

In a 2018 letter to Hagen, North Mankato denied his request to use a trail camera on his property, also writing that the city had determined that the primary cause of the deer attraction was the wooded location at the edge of Hagen. ‘a cliff, in addition to the presence of fruit trees and sawdust paths.

The letter further stated that the city had concluded that there was no deer problem in the community.

DNR Nicollet Area Wildlife Supervisor Stein Innvaer visited Hagen’s home in May 2019. He said it was easy to identify deer damage on Hagen’s property.

“When deer browse on a plant, it’s quite easy to identify, because they tear off branches in winter. They don’t kill them clean like a rabbit,” Innvaer said. “Tom is very well educated on native plants. It is clear on his property that there is a lack of natural plant regeneration in the woods. In my opinion, part of this is due to deer browsing. due to shading of mature trees Ornamental damage, i.e. they often do not reach occupied dwellings and browse on ornamental plantings right next to the house. good indication that there are deer wintering with him.

Across the river, the DNR conducted aerial deer counts at Mankato.

But Innvaer said there was no population estimate in northern Mankato.

“In northern Mankato, all I really see is what we can see from the helicopter as we turn around to head back to Mankato. That being said, there are obviously some deer active on along this valley, this wooded hill and other areas of northern Mankato.

Hagen said the problem extends beyond his own backyard. He has collected signatures from about 20 neighbors who he says support his efforts or have had similar issues.

“They cause damage not only to yards and gardens, but certainly very serious damage to woods,” Hagen said. “It creates a problem of potential erosion and certainly the destruction of an ecosystem.”

Innvaer said Hagen’s concern about the erosion of his property is valid.

“It’s always a concern in areas where the understory is so poor in a mature forest that erosion could become a problem. There are many things that can be done to control this, and deer population control is just one of them. The relationship between potential erosion and deer population is not always linear. I think in the area where Tom lives that could very well be the case,” he said.

Innvaer sent a letter to Hagen in 2019 after viewing his property.

In it he writes in part: “Some of the low plant diversity of the forests can be explained by the shade of the trees of the upper storey, but this natural condition is amplified by the intensive browsing of deer. However, the effect this lack of ground cover can have on soil stability, especially on steep slopes on your property, is just as important as the lack of plant diversity in my mind.

Innvaer went on to write that with fewer plants to hold the soil in place against erosion, it would only take a few strong storms to begin the process of digging and expanding ravines across Hagen’s property.

He suggested planting certain plant species to help hold the soil on the slopes, but also noted that persistent deer would make this process difficult.

Towns in the region such as Mankato, New Ulm and Blue Earth conduct hunts to control the population.

At this time, the city of North Mankato said it has no plans to conduct similar hunts.

Public Works Manager Nate Host said this was mainly due to the size of the area.

“We put out a brochure with several deterrents for ground cover or trees that could be planted that are deer resistant and would help with any sort of gully stabilization,” Host said. “At this point, the city and council are not ready to commit to any further action. The town of North Mankato just doesn’t have the space like other towns to have some sort of town-wide deer hunt.

Hagen said he hopes his meeting with the commissioners will go in his favor.

“At this point, I just want to make this point,” Hagen said. “The appeal process is not about the tax. The appeal process is to make them aware of the problem. By lowering the tax on a property, it at least gives me some recognition that there is a problem when I go to city hall.