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DNR OK's city deer cull application

Alex Doty • Feb 28, 2017 at 10:00 AM

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has given the city the go-ahead to conduct its deer management plan.

“It will be (valid) from the point of signature today through March 31,” DNR wildlife biologist Nik Kalejs said Monday.

The DNR Damage and Nuisance Animal Control Permit authorizes the city and Whitetails Unlimited to shoot up to 20 deer. Deer would be retrieved, transported and processed for human consumption, while the heads would be transported to the DNR for disease monitoring.

The authorized locations in the permit include the city airport, Mulligan’s Hollow and Harbor Island.

“It’s just a matter of whether it will be implemented or not,” Kalejs said. “Just because a permit has been issued doesn’t mean it will be acted upon.”

Kalejs noted that any future deer management activity would need to be conducted with another permit if no activity takes place in the permit window, or if the city wants to do further deer management activity.

Assistant to the City Manager Vester Davis said city leaders are evaluating the options given the time frame they have to work with and the number of deer allowed to be culled.

City of Grand Haven Deer Management Permit by Alex Doty on Scribd

“We’re working with our public safety department to evaluate how we want to proceed, given the restrictions and the time allowed in the permit,” Davis said. “The time frame is a bit of a short window.”

The city’s permit application to the DNR noted an increase in deer/car crashes, citizen complaints and cases of Lyme disease in Ottawa County, as well as concern for forest regeneration due to damage from deer. The application also noted that an estimated 30 deer per square mile caused the damage.

These examples were similar to what was included in the City Council resolution approved Nov. 22, 2016, which got the ball rolling on deer management. 

The City Council resolution cited as reasons for a cull an increase in the numbers of car/deer crashes, the current number (30) of deer per square mile exceeds the level (28) established by the city’s 2008 Urban Deer Management Plan, eight reported human Lyme disease cases in Ottawa County exceeds the threshold of six cases in a prior year, and overgrazing on dunes has degraded the environment and spread invasive species.

The resolution also cites complaints filed with the city about deer, including damage to private property, deer feces on sidewalks and in private yards, and deer ticks on children and pets. So far this year, the city has fielded five complaints about deer.

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