MUSKEGON COUNTY, MI – Bow hunting in the city of Whitehall has been approved as a “first step” in culling the deer population.
A new city ordinance allows property owners to seek approval for hunting on land that is at least six contiguous acres. Neighboring landowners can join their properties to achieve the needed acreage.
Council members called the new ordinance “a good first step” and a “good start.”
The ordinance requires that shots be taken from a temporary elevated stand and that they not be farther than 150 feet. Hunting also cannot be done within 150 feet of the property lines, any building or public street.
The idea of allowing hunting has been under discussion for about the past year, Whitehall City Manager Scott Huebler told MLive/Muskegon Chronicle earlier.
The primary concern is the damage the animals cause to private landscaping, he said.
Bow season is from Oct. 1 through Nov. 14 and Dec. 1 through Jan. 1.
Public property is not included in the allowed hunting areas.
When it was suggested that deer are most often seen on city and school properties and those owned by Howmet Aerospace, Huebler told the council that staff “strongly recommends against” hunting on public property.
“We think that would be a bad mix,” he said, later adding, “You definitely don’t want anybody hunting near any playgrounds.”
He added that it’s up to Howmet to decide whether to allow hunting on its property.
Under the city’s new ordinance, licensed bow hunters can apply annually for a city permit to hunt on eligible properties. The ordinance states the city could establish a fee for the permit, but the council has not voted on any fees.
Whitehall patterned its ordinance after one already in place in neighboring Montague. One council member noted that a property owner in Montague charges to hunt on their property, raising enough money to pay their property taxes.
The city’s ordinance says that hunting is allowed “for purposes of limiting the urban deer population that may cause a threat to vehicular traffic, damage landscaping, impact the health and regeneration of native vegetation, decrease the overall health of the deer population, and increase the risks of disease transmission.”
Baiting and feeding deer is not allowed.
The city previously tried educating residents on how to prevent deer from becoming a nuisance, but those efforts had little effect, according to Huebler.
It shared Michigan Department of Natural Resources information on city newsletters and on its website about “managing deer within suburban communities.” The information included types of trees, shrubs and plants that deer tend to eat, and those that they don’t like.