Grand Haven City Council is putting the brakes on a planned deer cull until this fall.
City Council voted 3-2 Monday night to forgo any deer cull activity this month as permitted by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and instead decided to reapply to the state to kill 30 deer during the state’s designated deer hunting season in the fall.
Councilmen Bob Monetza and Mike Fritz voted against the plan.
Monday’s move follows a decision on Feb. 27 by the DNR which authorized the city to shoot up to 20 deer by March 31. The deer would be retrieved, transported and processed for human consumption, while the heads would be transported to the DNR for disease monitoring.
“I’m supportive of this resolution to hold off, as far as this season is concerned, and making sure we get all of our permitting ready for the fall season when it should be done,” Mayor Geri McCaleb said.
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Those supportive of Monday’s decision say they were concerned about the timing of the state permit, and how a cull this month might impact pregnant deer.
“We weren’t really interested in shooting deer that might be pregnant or near full term of delivery,” Councilman Josh Brugger said. “There’s a good chance a number of the deer we might take might be near full-term with a fawn.”
Brugger also noted that he is greatly concerned with how the deer have impacted the local ecosystem, resulting in forests without undergrowth and a lack of diversity of plants and animals in the ecosystem.
“We have no apex predator at the top,” he said. “Without an apex predator at the top or humans to intervene, (there’s an over-abundance of deer).”
Brugger added: “I’m a defender of urban wildlife — every single one of them, not just the whitetail deer.”
Councilman Denny Scott also noted his concern about the time of year that the deer would be taken.
“To do this outside of hunting season just because we have a permit is wrong,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the right thing to do when they are pregnant. ... We want to take deer, but we want to take them when the time is right.”
Grand Haven public safety officials began to evaluate the practicality of planning and executing a cull given the tight time constraints and limited number of deer tags delivered.
Another resolution on the agenda regarding deer Monday night, brought forward by Councilmen Fritz and Monetza, asked the city to investigate all feasible non-lethal methods of deer management, conduct additional research about the impact of deer to the community, and tweak the city’s 2008 Deer Management Plan triggers.
“This resolution is essentially a summary of my comments at our November (2016) meeting,” Monetza said.
Monetza noted that the resolution would have also postponed deer culling indefinitely.
“It hits all the points that need to be taken care of (in) the city of Grand Haven, not the county of Ottawa,” Fritz said.
The plan brought forward by Fritz and Monetza was defeated 2-3 — with Brugger, McCaleb and Scott voting against it.