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Town of RF allows rifles during deer hunt

By Sarah Young A few local hunters came to the town of River Falls regular board meeting Monday, Oct. 7, asking if the town was going to follow the DNR’s lead and allow the use of rifles during the nine-day gun deer hunt.

According to the Wisconsin DNR website, beginning Nov. 1 rifles can be used state-wide during the nine-day gun-deer hunt unless a local municipality’s law says otherwise. This includes zones which used to be shotgun only, like Pierce and St. Croix counties.

Town Chair Diana Smith said she was unaware of this issue until she started receiving phone calls about it.

Hunter Mark Lear, W10197 State Road 29, said he contacted the county and the Sheriff’s Department and was told it was up to the town.

“Deer hunting is right around the corner in a couple weeks,” Lear said.

Zoning Administrator Jerome Rodewald presented research he had done on the subject and spoke in support of allowing rifles.

“Hunting is one of the safest sports in our state,” Rodewald said. “Most hunting related accidents are people falling out of tree stands rather than people getting shot.”

Rodewald said during 2002-2007, rifles were allowed in former shotgun only areas of Dane, Green, Lafayette, Rock and Walworth counties as part of a study. There was no increase in shooting accidents.

“The public perceives that a shotgun is safer than a rifle,” Rodewald said. “People need to understand the fact that there is really no difference.”

Rodewald also said the public needs to be better educated on the difference between shotguns and rifles and that studies show that on missed shots of deer, shotguns are riskier because of how a shotgun slug tumbles after it hits the ground.

He added that many hunters are not as cautious as they should be with shotguns because of the common misconception that shotguns are safer in populated areas.

On the DNR website, Conservation Warden Todd Schaller, the chief of the DNR’s Bureau of Law Enforcement’s Recreational Enforcement and Education Section, said “the department has not identified any safety-regulated advantage to shotguns and there is no deer herd management purpose for the old regulation.”

Town Supervisor Brad Mogen asked whether more deer would be harvested because rifles are more accurate than shotguns.

Rodewald said the town of River Falls is overpopulated with deer, according to the DNR, and is a herd management zone. He also said the terrain doesn’t allow for many long-range accuracy shots.

Supervisor Leroy Kusilek wasn’t thrilled with the idea of rifles being used for gun deer hunting.

“Personally, I don’t want rifles on my farm, shooting toward my buildings,” Kusilek said.

Smith told him his house is in unit 60M, which includes the city of River Falls and land west of Highway 29 toward the St. Croix River. Rifles will not be allowed in these areas because it is a metro unit.

The board decided to let the issue be and abide by the state law. Rifle use will not be restricted in the approved areas of the town.

“We have no way of informing the public or enforcing it if we did restrict it,” Smith said.

Mogen said he finally heard back from John Nordahl of Somerset Auto Salvage who runs the salvage yard at W9880 710th Ave. The facility is unlicensed because an annual inspection was never completed.

The board agreed that Nordahl let the license lapse, wasted the town’s time and should have to reapply for a license. The facility is not open and is locked up.

“It is not being operated in a professional, business-like manner,” Mogen said.

In other business: The board approved a two-year contract with Pierce County to collect the town’s property taxes at a cost of $1 per tax statement.

It also accepted the county’s offer to collate and mail the tax statements, along with the town newsletter and dog licensing information for $269.50.

The River Falls Ambulance contract was approved at a cost of $9 per capita.

The Plan Commission will possibly be researching the town’s options when it comes to rental inspections and abandoned houses/buildings that have become eyesores.

The official road miles in the town totals 60.2 miles, according to the town Highway Department reports.

The annual budget hearing will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18, at the Town Hall. At the last meeting Town Clerk Ruth Stern said recent state legislation will eliminate the need for the town to borrow funds to exceed the state imposed levy limits.

Town Tom Sitz asked Stern to contact the State Trust Fund Loan office to see if the town’s current loan can be re-amortized over a four-year span to avoid raising the town’s tax levy.

Building permits: --Bergseng Family Farm for a 108-by-114-foot cattle barn and manure pit, $206,000.

--Brian and Lisa Kusilek, N7936 988th St., for a new home.

--Donald and Mary Miner, N7486 County Road E, for a 36-by-45-foot storage shed, $15,000.