Last night, I attended an informational meeting at Blandford Nature Center about the deer population at the Center and the surrounding neighborhoods. I had no idea what to expect, and when the meeting’s introduction contained two reminders of civility for the post-presentation discussion, I realized just how contentious the subject is. The issue is the growing population of white-tailed deer combined with the decrease in available deer habitat. Much of the land surrounding the nature center was undeveloped or farmed/fallow agricultural land 30 years ago. Now it’s fenced-in yards and driveways. Deer are survivors. They can and will eat almost any kind of plant life, depending on how hungry they are. That includes much of the understory of a forest, which provides food for all the woodland creatures. One diner is eating all the food at the table, putting the biodiversity of the area at risk.
Coincidentally, I received the photo above in my inbox this morning. My sister’s neighbor took the picture from her kitchen window (in Wisconsin). Clearly, West Michigan isn’t the only place deer are abundant. In Michigan in 2009, there were 61,486 reported vehicle-deer crashes. Ten people in those crashes (all motorcyclists) were killed. Kent County leads the state in vehicle-deer crashes, with almost 2,200 per year.
Whether you’re a hunter, an animal rights activist, or just interested in the wild spaces around you, you can learn more at the MSU/DNR site, White-Tailed Deer. Be careful when driving, and remember – don’t feed the deer. It creates even more problems, and it’s against the law.