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Harbor Springs Ballot Proposal Could Lead to Deer Park Closure

On the ballot in Harbor Springs is a proposal for whether or not wild animal enclosures should be allowed.

If voters decide they don’t want those enclosures, it would shut down the Harbor Springs Deer Park.

9 & 10’s Blayke Roznowski and photojournalist Noah Jurik talked with voters on both sides of the deer park debate.

"I’ve been here almost 40 years and lots and lots of folks get a lot of enjoyment out of the deer park," Harbor Springs resident Nancy Rondel said. 

A deer park that has sparked a heated debate in the last year and now the City of Harbor Springs is taking it to the voters.

Rondel says she’s voting "no" Election Day in favor of keeping the park open that her kids grew up going to.

"We used to come over and feed them and they named them and they were just like pets," Rondel said. "We never had pets and since we live right here in the city and it was sort of their outdoors pets." 

But people who are against the deer park say it’s not the same that it was years ago. 

"This is not what it used to be when we all started to visit the park and love the park," Harbor Springs resident Judy Brock said. "Now, these deer are being born in captivity, bred in captivity and then they go off to Storm’s End." 

Storm’s End Whitetails is a deer breeder in Gaylord. 

It’s a deal the city set up with the company about a year ago to help keep the deer population healthy, with those deer sometimes going to land where they will be hunted.

"These are not injured deer, abandoned deer, these are deer that are born in captivity and they will die in captivity and our tax dollars in Harbor Springs are paying for this to happen," Brock said. 

Whichever way the vote goes, many in Harbor Springs just hope it’s the last argument they hear on the deer park.

"Way too much energy has gone into it in my opinion," Rondel said. "We have a lot of other things that we need to be dealing with." 
"A decision being made and moving forward," Brock said. "Whatever it is."