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Stop mass feeding of deer on Harbor Island

• Apr 3, 2017 at 1:00 PM

It may be difficult for animal lovers to comprehend that feeding wildlife on public land is more than unlawful. It’s just downright wrong.

Grand Haven city officials see a problem brewing on Harbor Island: People are putting out feed on the city-owned open space for the urban deer population.

Why is that wrong?

Well, first it breaks state law. Feeding deer and wildlife can be done on your own property for “recreational viewing” purposes, but not more than 100 yards from your residence. So, even if you own several acres, you can’t put out feed more than a football field away from your home.

Second, it is counterproductive to the city’s plan to keep the urban deer herd under control. As Councilman Josh Brugger put it, “To feed them and then shoot them doesn’t make sense.”

Third, dumping corn in one place can lead to the spread of devastating diseases, such as chronic wasting, a contagious neurological disease that can be deadly for deer and elk.

Grand Haven public safety officers have observed people sitting in cars to watch deer dine on a feed dump on Harbor Island. While the island is a terrific place to spot wildlife, attracting animals with a feed dump is bad behavior — at the very least, it’s littering and creating a nuisance.

Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke asked City Council last week to enact a specific ordinance to prohibit deer feeding on both public and private properties. Council was receptive to the idea and will likely be bringing a proposed ordinance up at a meeting in the near future.

Why private property, too? As at least one person said, commenting on the story about Hawke’s request posted on the Tribune’s website, deer in a neighborhood can be a nuisance. The commenter says a neighbor feeds deer in his or her yard but the deer don’t stay there, and the commenter just as soon not have them trampling over his landscaping.

Others have said deer have destroyed precious trillium beds in the past.

We support the city’s intent to keep the deer herd under control. So does the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

So, please: Feed the birds. Feed the ducks along the waterfront, if you want. But stop dumping bags of corn on Harbor Island.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Mark Brooky. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

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