Meridian Township Looking To Expand Deer Hunt

People in Meridian Township are dealing with their age-old neighbors, neighbors they are more than ready to be rid of.

"The deer just don't leave their neighborhood they're in there all day," said Assistant Park Naturalist for the Township Parks and Recreation department Nicholas Sanchez.

With a growing deer population, the township is trying to expand its deer management program. Hunters have been allowed on certain public properties, mainly land preserves and parks big enough for hunting and far enough from homes. Now the township wants to expand that to private land.

"So we're trying to make that connection if they are private land owners who are interested in having hunters on their property we might be able to help them link up with a hunter," Sanchez explained.

The township is also trying to expand the hunting season. Right now it runs from the last week of October through January first. Staff are applying for a permit from the Department of Natural Resources, continuing the hunting period into February.

Overpopulation of white-tailed deer is causing problems in the area, from ecological damage to car-deer collisions. Last year there were 180 of those accidents in the township.

"Where people are going faster they're not having enough time to brake if they see a deer or they may not see a deer at all," Sanchez added.

The problem isn't just on the roads. More deer are coming into residential areas and eating plants in people's gardens.

"Their needs are met in theses neighborhoods so they're sticking around and people are concerned about that," Sanchez said.

Brent Rudolph, who leads the deer and elk program with the state Department of Natural Resources says this is a trend across southern Michigan.

"Many suburban and urban communities are still seeing growing deer numbers with obviously much less hunting occurring in many of those places" Rudolph explained.

With few predators and an ample food source, deer populations in the suburbs are growing.

For the township it's about finding a happy balance between all neighbors.

"Really it's bringing down that conflict between humans and the deer, we want people to be able to enjoy seeing deer and obviously we want the deer population to be healthy," Sanchez added.


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