Deer control plan at airport submitted for MNR approval

Duane Hicks

The Town of Fort Frances has applied for funding under Transport Canada’s Capital Assistance Program for perimeter fencing to keep deer away from the airport.
But if the town doesn’t receive funding for the 5,800-metre long, eight-foot high, specially-designed fixed-knot fence, which would cost about $300,000, airport superintendent Bill Caul said Friday he has developed an action plan for this year, which he submitted last week to the Ministry of Natural Resources for approval.
The action plan is as follows:
•The town will apply to the MNR to have a deer harassment permit in place by July 1 in order to install motion detection noise equipment at the main deer trails near the airport.
The equipment will be supplied by the MNR.
•By Aug. 1, the town will have applied to have a deer removal permit in place so the town can implement a cull if and when deer become a major concern to aircraft.
They will use the Fort Frances Sportsmen’s Club, which has volunteered its members to bow hunt the deer for the cull.
The culling area will be expanded to include the rock ridges to the north of the runway.
•The town also will allow Fort Frances Sportsmen’s Club members to hunt on airport property during bow hunting season in October.
Bow hunters will have to follow procedures established by the town to ensure safe activities on the airport.
A public meeting was held March 30 at the airport to gain input regarding the deer problem there.
The sportsmen’s club suggested the archery cull, which has been conducted at airports elsewhere to good effect.
At that time, Caul said the Fort Frances Airport has been experiencing problems due to the increasing deer population, adding 2009 was the worst year for deer he’s ever seen there.
One private aircraft hit a deer in late fall while it was landing, causing serious damage to the plane.
In a second incident, a Bearskin airplane hit a deer with its landing gear while it was taking off (although there was no damage to the aircraft).
Caul said Friday that the deer already have started to come back this spring.
“They’re roaming around,” he noted. “This week they’ve seemed to have slackened off.
“I don’t know why, but prior to that, they were here every morning, every night,” he remarked.
Airport staff has increased the frequency of runway inspections prior to landings to try to ensure deer, or any other animals, are not on the runway when planes come in.
“Between them and seagulls, there’s always something,” Caul chuckled.