Starting in late September, bow hunters will be allowed to shoot and kill antlerless deer inside city limits.
The Rapid City Council on Monday voted to enact an ordinance that carves out an exception to the local ban on bow and arrow use for those who take part in a new hunting program that was developed jointly with state regulators. A resolution laying out the rules and terms of the program was also adopted.
Hunters will only be allowed in three zones, all of which are located in forested parts of town. One will be located north of the state Game, Fish and Parks Department's outdoor campus at 4130 Adventure Trail.
The other two will be located on wooded, private lands. One is north of the Blessed Sacrament Church at 4500 Jackson Blvd., while the other is just north of the Red Rock golf course at 6520 Birkdale Road.
Only 21 permits will be issued for the first year of the program, which will begin in late September and end shortly after New Year's. Permits will be free to obtain and distributed through a random drawing.
Permit holders, however, will still have to purchase an archery hunting license, which cost approximately $20.
City and GF&P officials who support the program say it will help offset the cost of Rapid City's annual deer harvest. Unlike the bow hunting program, the harvest is carried out by paid sharpshooters who bait and kill deer on wooded city properties by night. The local deer population has been managed this way since at least 1996.
According to the city Parks and Recreation Department, last year's harvest saw marksmen kill around 225 deer, which cost the city and others approximately $45,000.
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Other proponents said the program could help to prevent property damage and car crashes that deer can cause.
"I have beautiful deer that walk through my yard every morning and I love seeing it. But I also know the danger that come with having just too many deer per square mile," Councilwoman Darla Drew said.
Council members Lisa Modrick and Bill Evans, who along with Councilwoman Laura Armstrong voted against the proposal, took issue with its supposed cruelty to animals. The few Rapid City residents who spoke out against the program on Monday shared those concerns.
Area civic and wildlife groups, meanwhile, appear to be split on the issue.
The Prairie Hills Audubon Society of Western South Dakota, a regional environmental organization, recently came out against the proposal citing animal welfare. Jeff Olson of the Black Hills Sportsmen Club, which donates annually to the harvest, said Monday he supports it.
A lobbyist for South Dakota Bowhunters Inc. pointed to the prevalence of similar programs in other Midwest cities during his public comment to the council. Sioux Falls, for example, has had a similar program in place for years.
The council was ultimately split on both the ordinance and the resolution and approved both by a vote of 5-3. Armstrong, Modrick and Evans all opposed the measure, with council members Becky Drury and John Roberts absent for the vote.
"We're mixing business and pleasure in a way that shouldn't be done," Evans said.
Each of the seven separate hunting periods that make up the new program will last for 14 days. Hunters will be allowed to kill only one deer.