After an overpopulation of suburban deer running through city spaces, destroying gardens, and being hit by cars, volunteer bow hunters have harvested 150 white tails in the 4th year of Meridian Township’s management program.
The program, which started in 2011, came about after city residents demanded something be done about the overabundance of deer encroaching into town. As a response, the township began a novel program in which bow hunters who applied and were approved could harvest animals in pre-designated parcels during a special season for which they had to buy a permit for a token fee. The land open included some 380 acres, much of which is township-owned. The hunter’s first deer could be kept but any additional animals had to be donated.
Hunters must contend with a number of regulations when participating in the program. For instance, the hunter has to post a placard in their car advising those who came across it that they were hunting. No firearms are allowed, and use of a bow is prohibited within 150 yards (450 feet) of an occupied building, house, cabin, or any barn or other building used in a farm operation.
Still, in 2011 just 23 hunters started by taking 41 female deer (antlered deer were prohibited). In 2012, the land allocated was increased to some 1210 acres and approximately 50 hunters participated, harvesting a total of 90 deer. In 2013, the increase continued to include 60 hunters and 127 deer taken on 1600 open acres. By 2014, the harvest has grown to a record 150 animals of which some 1,500 pounds of venison, enough to serve over 7,500 meals, were donated to the Okemos and Haslett Community Church Food Banks in 2014.
In short, the program is a success and Meridian has been given the go ahead from DNR to continue the current hunt into February as the number of deer vs car accidents continue, with some 180 such collisions reported in the township in 2013.
“We are very pleased that our increased efforts have resulted in a greater harvest,” said Jane Greenway, Meridian Parks, and Land Management Coordinator in a statement obtained by Michigan Sportsman. “Reports from the residents are mixed – some are saying that they are definitely seeing a reduction in deer, while others are reporting large deer herds living in their yards or nearby green spaces. Our hope is that sustained deer management will allow the native vegetation to flourish and will reduce the conflicts between deer and cars.”
To find out more about how to participate in the Meridian Hunts, visit the townships FAQ here or call 517-853-4000.
Meridian Township’s Deer Harvest Continues