Grand Forks City Council is considering a bylaw that would ban the use of bow and arrows within city limits as a result of complaints received recently from community members. Currently, it is legal to bow hunt within the city limits. Bow hunting has mostly been used as a way to control the deer population and the nuisance they have become.
According to the staff report from Lynn Burch, chief administrative officer for the city, the process recommended to council at the meeting on Monday, Dec. 21, will take longer to complete but will ensure that council gathers information through consultation with other groups prior to making their final decision on the bylaw wording. Burch proposed that the council could replace the existing discharge of firearms bylaw with one that includes firearms and bows and arrows in the wording of the bylaw.
“In view of the fact that the Community Charter requires a council statement on the reasons to undertake such regulations,” said Burch in her report, “by adopting a bylaw such as being proposed, the option recommended provides council an expanded knowledge base going forward.”
Burch suggested that the council consult with the Grand Forks Wildlife Association, the RCMP and the province’s conservation officer as a part of the development of the bylaw.
Councillor Chris Moslin has been actively tracking the deer population in Grand Forks for two years and sees the bow hunting as a viable option for culling the herds.
“A limited entry hunt is the most cost effective way of dealing with the deer problem. Other options are just too costly. People may argue that bows and arrows are a safety risk. I would like to argue that deer are also a health risk,” said Moslin. “Eli Podovinikoff came to council a few weeks back and summed it up well: Grand Forks is famous for two things: deer and potatoes. Make stew, feed the hungry. I look forward to coming up with a safe and effective way that these weapons can be used.”
Mayor Brian Taylor added information to the discussion. “I had archery people call me to clarify a couple of issues. The deer that are being shot in town with non-hunting arrows is simply vandalism and animal cruelty and should be viewed as that. It shouldn’t reflect on bow hunters,” said Taylor. He also explained that both crossbows and compound bows can have significant force and that both should be included in their potential bylaws.
Councillor Gene Robert spoke against the motion. His sense is that the bylaw should proceed. “I think it’s a band-aid approach. We already have a bylaw on the books regarding firearms. The option I would suggest is that we consult to include areas we haven’t considered. But the community needs a bow bylaw. When you’re walking in City Park with fear, then I think this is an issue,” he said.
Robert explained he has researched other cities in Canada that have already included a similar bylaw in their policies that Grand Forks can use as examples for their process. Council agreed to follow Burch's recommendation to complete further consultation before adopting a bylaw.