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Time to update the deer cull trigger points

• Aug 8, 2018 at 2:00 PM

Grand Haven’s administration recently updated the City Council on the status of urban wildlife within the city. This update followed the most recent deer cull, which took place in late 2017.

While the city debates what should happen next in regards to urban wildlife management, one thing remains clear: It’s time to revisit the process that allows a cull to happen, and for the city to back up its actions with some hard data.

City Council currently follows a plan developed in 2008 to determine whether any deer management efforts need to take place.

Known officially as the 2008 Deer Management Plan, the plan includes a number of triggers that initiate whether a deer cull is necessary: an upward trend in car/deer crashes, an upward trend in deer population, documented local cases of Lyme disease, an upward trend in deer damage complaints, valid deer damage to the local ecology, and local deer population disease outbreaks.

While this plan may have made sense 10 years ago, and although 2008 doesn’t seem like it was that long ago, the truth is that a lot can change in a decade.

Looking back at the past 10 years in Grand Haven, we’ve seen the downtown improved with a new streetscape and snowmelt system, the boardwalk was renovated and repaired, the two lighthouses were acquired by the city, money was raised to save the catwalk, myriad street and infrastructure projects have taken place around town — just to name a few.

Given all of these changes, it doesn’t seem like too far of a stretch to think that maybe it’s time to revisit some of these trigger points.

The city should treat this plan like any other on its shelves, and it should be treated as a living document. This means conducting a periodic review and updating the plan.

There are plenty of smart people in this community who can provide insight on the topic to help determine if this plan is still relevant, or whether any updates are needed.

We’re not here to argue for or against another deer cull. But what we are saying is that a good review needs to take place of the plan that dictates how the city arrives at conducting a cull.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Alex Doty, Kevin Hook, Matt DeYoung, Mark Brooky, Josh VanDyke and Duncan MacLean. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to [email protected] or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

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