Future of Harbor Springs Deer Park up for vote

HARBOR SPRINGS, Mi (WPBN/WGTU)-- A final decision on the much debated deer park in Harbor Springs is just weeks away.

The Harbor Springs City Council has officially placed a proposal on the November 8th ballot that would prohibit wild animal enclosures in their community.

The deer park has been a part of the Harbor Springs community since 1946 and has been a point of pride for many city leaders.

"The city council has been very protective I think, or at least supportive of continuing the tradition of the deer park," said Harbor Springs City Manager Tom Richards.

However, a considerable number of residents now say it's time to close the attraction.

"The chronic wasting syndrome and tuberculosis in deer, all of those are known to be spread by contact, when you increase the population of animals being fed in a certain area," said Harbor Springs resident Tracy Dulak. "So, I just think we're teaching people bad habits on account of just making some entertainment for people."

Others say the deer park still plays an important role in the education and appreciation of nature.

"I’m a nanny here in Harbor Springs, and this is a great place to take the kids I take care of," said Charlevoix resident Amy Pflueke. "It's a great place to feed them and watch their eyes light up with delight when they get to see the deer and too see the deer kissing their fingers."

The biggest factor in maintaining the park is limiting the herds population.

In 2011, a local resident saw two police officers shoot and kill two of the deer in the park, which had been the standard procedure for years.

Since then, the park has become hotly debated, leading the council to put the issue to a vote.

"Rather than judge on our own which side has the more valid argument, let's let the voters decide directly whether we should either have a deer park in harbor springs or we should not."

If the park closes, these deer will go to storms end whitetails, a certified deer breeder near Gaylord.

After the 2011 shooting incident, the city introduced a contraception plan as a more human alternative.

On average, the deer park costs Harbor Springs about $9,000 in labor, feeding and veterinary check ups.

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