By Maleah Egelston
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer
This fall, a small number of people will be able to bow hunt deer at Lake Lansing Park North for the first time. The hunt is part of Meridian Township’s managed deer harvest program designed to control and reduce the area’s overpopulation of deer.
Hunting is allowed only at or near one the four hunting blinds set up by Meridian township officials. Park manager Pat Witte said each blind is required to be at least 450 feet away from any walking trail, building or park amenity in order to ensure the safety of park guests. Any trail cameras intended to be used must be put through the game camera review committee.
Nick Sanchez, assistant park naturalist for Meridian Township, said that 10 Meridian residents were chosen to participate while the other qualified applicants were placed on a waiting list. Volunteers are required to be 18, have a valid hunting liscence and take a bow safety class through Michigan State University’s Demmer Center before participating.
Okemos resident Matthew Delong said seeing so much deer-related damage in his neighborhood made him want to volunteer.
“We were experiencing a lot of deer-related damage in the neighborhood and felt that hunting was the best option,” Delong said. Both my wife and I are avid hunters so we offered to be part of the volunteer group.”
After their first deer, hunters must be donate every deer they kill to the Greater Lansing Food Bank for distribution to food banks throughout the county, said Sanchez. Last year the program donated 1,126 pounds of venison to the food bank.
Sanchez said the program has no distinct goals other than reducing the number of deer-related incidents in the area including loss of foliage, traffic accidents and private landscape or garden damage.
“It is very difficult to come up with meaningful numbers as a target for a deer harvest since there is no practical or cost-effective way to census a deer population,” Sanchez said. “Free ranging wildlife don’t seem to care about our legal boundaries.”
The hunt will occur during Michigan’s regular bow hunting season from Oct. 1 to Dec. 30.