Leonard Preserve hunt limited in response to neighbors’ concerns
On the evening of September 14th, Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission (WCPARC) held a public meeting in Manchester to discuss the deer management for the Leonard Preserve, which includes limited deer hunting by disabled veterens. Around 20 people attended the meeting. Allison Krueger, Stewardship Manager for the WCPARC stated, “We had folks come to show their support for the hunt and a small group of neighbors speak up against the hunt. I believe the neighbors are all off TimberLake Road and have safety concerns with the hunt occurring close to their back yards. We understand their concerns, and have worked with them to adjust our schedule, quantity of hunters, dates, zones, and signage strategy to address their concerns.”
Changes to the original hunt plan include the canceling of the planned late antlerless doe season hunt in December. Now hunting will occur only between Oct. 13 – 16, and Nov. 15 – 30. Additionally, an area has been added in the southwestern section of the hunting area called the “hunt safety zone.” The hunt safety zone, will be closed to the public during hunting but hunters will not be allowed to discharge their guns in this area. Krueger stated, “A portion of this area is within 450’ of a neighbors home. We then extended the zone beyond the standard 450’ buffer at the neighbor’s request.”
While the WCPARC recognizes that the neighbors are opposed to the hunt occurring at all, they are still firm in following through with a hunt for the next three to five years in order to alter deer behaviors and reduce their damage to the native grasses and flowers and the damage to populations of other species that rely upon them.
Krueger relayed neighbors’ concerns that there may be a public misconception that hunting will be allowed by the public, when in fact hunters must qualify as disabled and register with Tom Jones, MiOFO coordinator, by emailing him at email@example.com or calling 734-612-6677 in order to participate in this very limited and controlled hunt.
While we don’t yet have an official count on Manchester vets that have registered, Krueger stated, “I know there were one, or two, local vets from Manchester who were either going to sign up for the hunt or sign up as a volunteer. I will say that MiOFO has received a lot of interest from locals who want to volunteer for the events. I believe the volunteers are motivated to support the veteran’s accessibility and to promote deer herd management.”
She continued, “Just as a side note, WCPARC has consistently heard from the local community who have often volunteered at Leonard to help preservation of the habitats–it’s a really cool community!”