OSAGE — Mitchell County’s sign warning motorists of “suicidal deer” on Highway 105 will remain in place for now.
The sign was placed by the Mitchell County Supervisors north of St. Ansgar with the hope motorists would notice the unusual wording and pay attention in high-traffic deer areas. The sign, which has garnered mixed reaction on social media, has gained national attention.
Supervisor Shannon Paulus reported during a meeting Tuesday several county residents expressed they did not appreciate the word “suicide” on a public sign. They asked Paulus to have the sign taken down.
“Some in the mental health community even feel as the sign could cause trigger issues in those who have personal experience with the suicide of loved ones or those who have experienced suicidal thoughts in the past,” Paulus said.
Mitchell County resident Alexander Schmidt, read a letter of concern regarding the sign. Within his letter, he called out the sign as “being in poor taste and inconsiderate to those who had experienced a loved one’s suicide,” stressing the power words can have and the sign could be hurtful or even traumatic.
He urged the supervisors to remove the sign, which, while viewed as playful and joking in tone to many, was not being viewed that way by some. He asked the supervisors consider the feelings of all of the counties’ residents, not just those who would view the signs in a humorous light.
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Immediately following the reading of the letter, Paulus made a motion to have the sign removed. The motion died for a lack of a second from Supervisors Stan Walk or Joel Voaklander, meaning the sign will remain in its location for the foreseeable future.
“I would really like to see the sign taken down,” Schmidt said following the vote. “I appreciate Supervisor Paulus moving to take it down.”
Paulus also noted the signs might create a traffic hazard, since motorists have reportedly turned around to take photos.
Walk had no comment regarding the sign after the meeting, other than stating the intent behind the signs had already been clearly explained — sending a message that deer in those areas tended to be in the roadways.
The Mitchell County Farm Bureau has inquired the cost per sign and how many signs have been purchased, Sheriff Greg Beaver said. The county has purchased multiple signs, but only installed one to gauge feedback from residents.