City Council voted 3-2 Monday night to approve new deer feeding regulations.
City Manager Pat McGinnis said the ordinance was driven by citizens and residents who complained about people feeding deer in the city.
“Last spring, Chief Hawke came to a work session and talked about an ordinance dealing with the feeding of deer in the City of Grand Haven,” McGinnis said.
In his 2017 presentation to council, Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke noted that the current Michigan Department of Natural Resources rules define “baiting vs. feeding” in Public Act 451 of 1994. It says that baiting is for hunting purposes on public and private lands, and is allowed during the state’s hunting season from Sept. 15 to Jan. 1. Feeding is primarily for “recreational viewing” and is permitted in Michigan on private property up to 100 yards from a person’s home.
Several Michigan communities have ordinances prohibiting the feeding of deer, including Muskegon, Norton Shores, Ann Arbor and Rochester Hills. Grand Haven officials say these ordinances were reviewed and provided to the city attorney prior to the creation of the new ordinance.
The new city ordinance states that “no person may furnish, place or permit placement on the ground or within 5 feet of the ground, or otherwise make available, any fruit, berries, grain, vegetables, nuts, salt or other edible material or bait which may reasonably be expected to attract or feed deer, unless such materials are covered or protected in a way to prevent deer from feeding on them.”
McGinnis noted that the ordinance does not apply to items such as bird feeders and naturally growing materials, fruit trees, live crops, plants, flowers and vegetation. The ordinance also exempts veterinarians, animal control officers, federal and state game officials, and persons authorIzed by the city or other public authority in the course of deer management activities.
City Council’s reception to the new regulation was mixed, as evidenced by its narrow approval. Councilmen Mike Fritz and Bob Monetza voted to oppose the measure.
Mayor Geri McCaleb said she supports the new rules.
“I’m in favor of doing this if it is only to let people know we want to discourage this sort of thing,” she said.
Councilman Josh Brugger also noted that he is in favor of the new policy.
“I think, as much as we can, the idea is to reduce the deer population by non-lethal means,” he said.
Monetza noted that he didn’t think the new rules would make it anymore easier to deal with people who are feeding deer in the community, and there are sufficient laws in place that deal with feeding deer.
Fritz shared a similar view.
“We should be enforcing the laws we have,” he said. “There are a lot of laws on the books that we don’t enforce.”