Hunting concerns mount

Several Spring Lake Township and Ferrysburg officials are miffed that they were not invited into the conversation about an upcoming deer hunt at North Ottawa Dunes.
Marie Havenga
Sep 15, 2012


Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Director John Scholtz said managed recreational hunts are scheduled in the 500-acre dune area for Nov. 17-18 during firearms season, and Dec. 8-9 during muzzleloader season.

And although the county parks staff held a public meeting in late August, some municipal leaders felt snubbed that they weren't asked for input.

Spring Lake Township Trustee Ron Lindquist said even though Ottawa County owns North Ottawa Dunes, the land is within Spring Lake Township and the Township Board should have a say in it.

“Right now, I'm not a very happy camper with Ottawa County Parks and Recreation,” Lindquist said. “They didn't inform the board. I don't think that was very polite of John Scholtz. He seems to have an agenda, and he's pushing it through and to hell with anybody else.”

Ferrysburg City Councilwoman Regina Sjoberg said council also should have been approached for input. Ferrysburg's Coast Guard Park is a parking and entry area for the 500-acre North Ottawa Dunes.

Sjoberg said she attended a collaborative meeting about potential hunts in March, but there has been nothing since then.

“What happened to the collaboration?" she posed. "They seem to have an agenda and they're not really listening to the community. I'm really most offended they didn't even come talk to us — come and talk about their science, what they were planning, how they were going to control the safety.”

Sjoberg and several other municipal leaders — including Lindquist and fellow township trustees Bob Shay and Judith Miljan — said they are concerned about the hunt's proximity to houses.

“I'm not necessarily anti-hunting,” Sjoberg said. “I know there's a place for hunting. I'm just not sure it's in a place surrounded by residential neighborhoods. I'm a process person and I feel the process has been violated.”

Lindquist said he has a lot of unanswered questions — including potential danger to residents and pets, possible increases in car-deer accidents, and coyote and wolf populations.

“I have not made up my mind whether or not I support culling, but I think as a courtesy they should have come to us,” he said. “I have not seen anything that would indicate any serious thought has been given to what the results of culling would be.”

Spring Lake Township Supervisor John Nash said he sought information earlier this spring from county representatives, wildlife experts and members of the Tri-Cities Safety Coalition, a group concerned about potential negative effects of a hunt. Nash said he set up meetings to hear all sides of the issue in an attempt to sort fact from opinion.

“The idea wasn't a formal township meeting or anything — it was an informational gathering," he said. "People kept coming to me and saying 'This is true, that's true.' One person says one thing and one person says another. I wanted to sort it all out.”

Township Manager Gordon Gallagher said Nash was within his rights to personally gather information without involving other board members, even though Nash's actions were scrutinized by the Tri-Cities Safety Coalition.

The Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Board hosted a public meeting in late August to discuss the organized hunt.

Lindquist insists the board should have been given the opportunity for input prior to the plans being finalized. Miljan also said the board and residents should have been given the opportunity for input.

“Residents should be furious and outraged whether or not they agree to controlled hunting,” Miljan said. “The collaborators and county have given them no voice.”

Miljan, who lives in North Holiday Hills adjacent to North Ottawa Dunes, said she is so concerned about safety that she will make sure she is not home during hunting weekends.

Scholtz said the park would be closed during hunting times and staff would stand guard in parking areas.

The township trustees raised concerns about residents who enter the dunes through their backyards, not thinking about the hunting schedule.

Shay, who also lives in North Holiday Hills, suggested the county also have a physical presence in neighboring subdivisions.

Despite his safety concerns, Shay said he is in favor of thinning the deer herd. He said he often sees deer wandering down his street and in his yard.

“I just don't know if this is the best way to go about it,” he said. “I don't know if it would be better to have professionals (sharpshooters) only, or limit it to bow and arrow or crossbow.”

Scholtz said when the county applied for a $3.9 million Trust Fund grant to establish the dunes area in 2004, managed deer hunts were listed on the application as a future park activity. (See the document, click the Related File at the bottom of this story.)

“It's not something that's a brand new idea,” Scholtz said. “It's four days, two weekends. It's a 500-acre property and we're mirroring what the state does with their hunts. We didn't really see where we needed to seek permission from Spring Lake Township, given all those factors. But I would be happy to talk to the board.”

Scholtz noted that the county allows hunting in more than half of its parks. He said Kirk Park in Grand Haven Township has little or no deer damage, but North Ottawa Dunes is showing ill effects.

“The reason we're opening it up for some limited deer hunting is we are concerned about the overpopulation of deer,” Scholtz explained. “There are impacts to the vegetation, and that's not really a debatable thing in our mind. There's a lot of misinformation that's being thrown around out there.”

Scholtz said the nearby residents would be notified by mail prior to the hunt dates. A "small number of hunters" (25-30 over the two weekends) will be authorized, he said, and they will be shown the boundaries and a 450-foot setback.

The Tri-Cities Safety Coalition called the county's deer management policy “misguided, biased and deeply flawed.” The group questions how county officials could deem a hunt necessary or know what it would achieve without first conducting an independent ecosystem impact study and a deer population survey.

Although Scholtz said he doesn't have deer population numbers, he said the impact on the park's vegetation is clear.

“Little tree seedlings just aren't there anymore,” he said. “The next generation of trees isn't going to be there at some point in time. It has effects through the whole ecosystem.”

Scholtz said residents of North Shore Estates petitioned the county several years ago to request a herd thinning.

Adjacent P.J. Hoffmaster State Park in Norton Shores has hosted hunts for the past five or six years, Scholtz added.

“They're seeing positive impacts,” he said.



Well so there you have it folks, some politicians running for cover, the uniformed spewing flawed information, and some brave individuals putting together a cost effective solution while the community takes pot shots at there leadership on the issue. The facts are: 1. Vegetation destruction is occurring. 2. A well thought out cost effective solution had been put together and everyone had opportunity to voice concern or help with the solution. 3. Hunting occurred in this area before it was a park with no incidents. Now watch the comments following mine distort these facts without offering a solution and make slanderous comments towards those that truly care about the area and offer solutions. If your not part if the solution, your part of the problem.


I love it when reactionary local politicians get their excercise jumping to conclusions.


"AMEN" Wingmaster


They will be shown the boundaries and a 450-foot setback, Scholtz said. This is a minimum setback as required by law for all hunting. Heres a simple solution, being the area is 500 acres in size. Set the huntable areas deeper into the wood with a larger setback, this is a no cost viable option to consider. Problem solved.


That is a GREAT idea!!! Wish they would exercise that suggestion as well around our home. I'm tired of being woken up by gun shots and people driving their vehicles like idiots through our driveway!!! I have NOTHING against hunting - my husband is an avid hunter - and we own a lot of guns, so I am not against that as well!!! However - I am opposed to random people being able to wander around my house and the fact that when we first purchaed the place - it was because it was private, and now it obvioulsy is not!


Interesting...a related article.

Mr. Conservative

too many ignorant liberal bastards spread lies and rumors about guns and hunting. North Holiday Hills is filled with week minded liberal puppets. Anything that is remotely connected to hunting they shoot down. When it comes to aborting babies, they are all over supporting it and pushing it through congress. When they find a spider on the floor, life has to stop so they can save it. Double standard crap. I hate Liberals. They create awful double standards and make life hell.


You bring nothing to the conversation but division with your comments. As wrong as you see them, they believe they are right. Respectful dialogue is what is needed to resolve issues. You are as bad as the worst far left liberal. If you want to bring it, bring it like an adult. I would stand next to an anti hunter and shout you down with that kind of hate you spew. Keep it to yourself.


Wingmaster, very well said. Thanks for your comments. Too often these forums are nothing more than an electronic version of a public restroom wall. Thanks again!


What's a "week-minded" puppet? A marionette with a short attention span?

kathy p.

Hunting and culling is not the answer as more fawns will be born. Hunting simply decreases the competition for food among the animals that survive a hunt. The animals left behind will be better fed, become stronger and their potential for reproduction will increase. As quite clearly stated in the college textbook Wildlife Ecology and Management" (Fifth Edition, Pearson Education, Inc. 2003). "{h}unting mortality is frequently compensatory because it usually increases the life expectancy of individuals surviving the hunt, promotes higher reproductive rates, or does both."


Because you will not look it up for parks and other natural areas, deer consume wild plants. Over time, spring wildflower displays diminish. Plants highly prized by deer decline or disappear entirely. In some places, deer are responsible for the disappearance of over half of all plant species—in just a few decades. Its actually sooner with higher densities. (from action What Do We Do with Too Many White-tailed Deer? Thomas P. Rooney) If we do nothing and allow nature to run uncheck, populations expand beyond carrying capacity and crash. Then the cycle starts over. Before the population crashes you have higher car/deer accidents, higher densities of disease carrying deer (this is one of the factors that ends up causing the crash), lower body weighs. Those that do not get taken out from disease, suffer malnutrition. There is more I could go on. Maybe pics for you to see would open your eyes. You think you care but your position is causing more suffering to the deer and far, far more damage to the ecosystem. Better hope one of those animals does not end up in your lap when you are driving down the road, hurting you or others.


Have you read the introduction to this book? Wildlife Ecology and Management Fifth Edition, Pearson Education, Inc. 2003: This exceptionally comprehensive, single-source introduction to the art, science, theories, practices, and issues of wildlife management is ideal for the novice in the subject. Features full-chapters on predators, urban wildlife, policy, water, soil, diseases, conservation biology. New, up-to-date issues covered include the removal of dams, global warming, emerging diseases among elk and deer, adaptive harvest management, animal rights groups, women hunters, population data, migratory animals and more. For anyone interested in an exceptionally comprehensive introduction to wildlife management and conservation. How’s about providing some data on the deer estimates in the Ottawa county area, the only over populated areas are the City of Grand Haven, North Shore dune area and PJ Hoffmaster state park. Look at the estimated numbers for Grand Haven Township, Spring Lake Township, Nunica and Crockery Township. They are significantly lower numbers in these areas due to both public and private land hunting. You really shot yourself in the foot this time


"Kathy p." continues to spout the same tired and disproved assertions of the Defenders of Urban Wildlife who have been unsuccessful in gaining public support for their opposition to urban deer management practices in Grand Haven. She and they like to shout the term "compensatory rebound" based in part on a study they at one time included on their website. It was a 30 year-old study co-authored by Dr. Ronald Labisky and was entitled Reproductive Dynamics Among Disjunct White-tailed Deer Herds in Florida. The study found, in part, that there was slight increase in fertility rates in hunted herds vs. non-hunted herds. Note my use of the term slight and what Dr. Labisky says about HIS findings.

Their use of this study caused me to read the study in its entirety. Furthermore, I reached out to Dr. Labisky and was shocked and surprised that he responded to my email inquiries. We all know what "Kathy p." and her ilk say. Hunting deer means the remaining deer will have more food; therefore, more deer will be born.


I'll repost some of my conversation with Dr. Labisky and let others be the judge as to the veracity of the statements from Defenders of Urban Wildlife and "Kathy p." His comments are in parenthesis ( ) and I emphasize key points with ALL CAPS. The text display features of this forum are a bummer, but I hope you all can read this.

(First off, managing deer herds is urban settings is a complex problem, and I have never researched urban deer populations. I can offer some comments, and will.

No, I have never heard of the term “compensatory rebound”. I suspect they derived the term from a statement that Richter and I made on page 969 of our 1985 paper: “Although pregnancy rates DID NOT DIFFER SIGNIFCANTLY between hunted and nonhunted sites in Florida, the number of fetuses per pregnant doe was greater on hunted than nonhunted sites. The index of net reproductive gain, fawns excluded, was 1.240 in hunted herds and 1.075 in nonhunted herds, suggesting that HUNTED HERDS WERE IN BETTER BALANCE with the carrying capacities of their ranges.” I stand by that statement, and besides that concept is as old as the hills. But, let’s tease it apart, by starting with the term carrying capacity. In Florida, nutrition is very poor; levels of crude protein, phosphorus, and in vitro organic matter digestibility in major forages in pine flatwoods habitat “was deficient year-round with respect to the nutritional requirement of white-tailed deer” (Kilgo and Labisky. 1995. Florida Scientist 58: 327-334). Furthermore, does in Florida do not breed until 18 months of age, whereas a high proportion of does in the Midwestern states breed as fawns, e.g., (94% in Illinois). Another facet in Florida is the high predation rate on fawns; a minimum of 60% (94% by extrapolation) of fawns were killed by bobcats in the Florida Everglades (Labisky and Boulay. 1998. American Midland Naturalist 139: 275-281). In your part of the world, PREDATORS ARE ABSENT or at low population levels. All these factors contribute to the low density of deer in Florida (range of about 10-30 deer per square mile)—far lower than densities in your part of the world. Thus, we have a few problems with deer in urban settings, save for homes/landscapes nested within inviolate natural preserves. In fact, statewide, the sportsman cry is for MORE deer, thus, we harvest few does. Bottom line: MANAGEMENT OF DEER IN FLORIDA IS MUCH DIFFERENT THAN IN MICHIGAN.

Your region of Michigan has good forage that provides high nutrition; thus, productivity is high, which contributes to moderate/high densities. Urban areas and parks, thus, become sanctuaries for deer—resulting in deer damage to natural and urban landscapes. The problem is too many deer in environments with limited carrying capacity. Noteworthy, in this respect, is that the overpopulation of deer has occurred in many Midwestern states in the past 50 or 60 years (e.g., Wisconsin, Iowa, and South Dakota), which led to the now general practice of harvesting female deer to reduce populations. Some of these reductions were drastic, thereby unpopular, but necessary. Some folks have championed sterilization and other related techniques as a means of reducing populations. In my opinion, such approaches are cost-prohibitive and ineffective. For example, if you do manage to render the entire herd incapable of reproduction, you still have the “standing” herd intact and capable of continuing damage to the vegetation until they die. Furthermore, you will continue to get an influx of deer from surrounding environs. YOU ARE ALREADY AT HIGH REPRODUCTIVE LEVELS, SO THE REDUCTION OF DOES TO THE SO-CALLED "COMPENSATORY REBOUND" IS INCONSEQUENTIAL IN YOUR SITUATION. The bottom line is that you need to reduce your deer population before it gets out of hand.)

Remember, this is the author of the study opponents of hunting and culling say “proves” THEIR theory called “compensatory rebound”. Am I the only one who finds it telling that Dr. Labisky has never heard of the term?

What is most disappointing about “Kathy p.” and her ilk is they want to pretend they understand what they view as the “science” behind their positions. But unlike science, their positions don’t stand up to a modicum of “peer review”. Their minds are made up and that’s just the way it is.

What is surprising to me is when you peel back the onion layers of who these people are...they are educated urbanites, pampered by our modern life, who have spent precious little time in the wild.

This absence of experience with wildlife oozes from their writings like water from a wet sponge.


Wow, very impressive. Your post is worth repeating every time this study is twisted by others to offer flawed opinions to this debate. Thanks RenegadeX for doing what investigative reporters are supposed to be PAID to do. See Tribune reporters, that is what someone there could be doing with their time rather then coming up with silly worded polls or inflammatory titled piece regarding this hunt. Actually call the author of the repeatedly posted study on here and ask questions! For those that are lurking and following along with this discussion, this should give you pause to think. If you are of the same views against this hunt as kathy p and others you should really be thinking long and hard. Notice how most on this forum that are pro hunting and hunters themselves, spend time actually studying and understand throughly the complex problems of urban deer. I suspect those same hunters, like myself have been already practicing if the are bowhunters for at least a month now. We are dedicated to being competent when we entire the field. We respect the game we hunt deeply. We practice and are very familiar with our weapons. We have all been through safety programs and most have spent additional time practicing that safety with Mothers and Fathers and peers. Yes I said Mothers. There are more and more female hunters involved with the sport. I have spent time afield with both of my daughters many times before they were of age to hunt and now that they are. I would not be exposing my kids, that I love dearly, to an unsafe environment. Like my father did with me, we discuss safety nearly every time we uncase our guns. We hunters find it very offensive when the uninformed make wild claims regarding how unsafe hunting would be. I feel safer at a camp fire with hunters then I do in a coffee shop in the city with these so called compassionate people. So if you are a non hunter that is fine, but hunting the deer in this park offers a cost effective, safe solution to this problem.

Tri-cities realist

Hopefully all we will hear from Kathy p and GN are crickets, since renegade pretty much shut the door on this one. Thanks renegade, well done!


For those interested in reading more about Dr. Labisky. Thanks for the comments as well!


Great job Renegade! Probably one of the best posts yet!


An elected official's number one priority to his constituents is their safety. I fully appreciate these elected officials standing up for their constituents, asking tough questions, and demanding answers on issues that directly affect the safety of the citizens and their families that elected them to represent them.


GN have you read the North Ottawa Dunes grant application? The 2000 Ottawa County Parks. Recreation And Open Space Plan. Includes hunting in case you haven’t read it. You’re going to go back 12 years and change what’s already approved in there plan filed with the DNR? Your screen name really shows your intellectuality. GN stands for (Gots Nothin’)


Hey, Mr. ghresident~
Just wanted to let you know what GN stands for: GOOD NEIGHBOR!
"Their" NOT "there" - get a dictionary - it's worth a small investment!
"Intellectuality" - is that even a word?


Good neighbor huh? Either it is indeed your neighbor or your hubby, or a joint collaboration since you both have been members for exactly 1 week 2 days. I’d dare say it’s your hubby since the screen name smartie leads me to believe you’re a woman And neither of you bring anything to the table intellectually.
There or is it their?!


My, my, you're a real smartie pants, Mr. ghresident! And aren't we full of conspiratorial theories? Have you perhaps noticed those black helicopters hovering above your neighborhood.... ever considered joining the FBI or CIA; hey, maybe even MENSA, why, with your brain teeming with such "intellectuality", it would surely intrigue such agencies to dig right in!


Oui vey...the contribution to the discussion is priceless ..NOT!

Say No To Tourist's

Agreed RenagadeX, thanks for the great post from yourself and Wingmaster. Even ghresident has made some very valid posts, then again I can only see you beating your head against a brick wall for so long before things turn south.


Save your breathe. No longer do they deserve any more attention. Let them go back to irritating their families!


Guess I'd better hide my black guns eh?


The officials are only concerned now since a hunt is in the near future, dont ya think they would have had some input 12 years ago when the grant application was applied for? how many of these same people were on the boards at this time? Now we have officials from bordering townships trying to throw there 2cents worth in when they have nothing to do with this particualr parcel. GN, you have nothing really to add, your just grasping for straws to stir the pot at this point.


GN, I agree that "elected public officials" have the responsibility to be concerned about public safety. Ask yourself this though; why haven't the public officials (the Ferrysburg City and Spring Lake Township Managers, the Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Chief and the Ottawa County Sheriff) whose JOB it is to DIRECTLY oversee public safety, expressed an iota of concern about the county's plan?





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