GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids is considering working with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to determine if the city’s deer population is growing too large.

Andy Albertson has been roadside in Kent County for the past 20 years or so, picking up tens of thousands of dead deer carcasses — and landing him the nickname “the deer sheriff.”

“With the numbers we’re getting, it’s a public service and I think it’s very, very necessary,” Albertson said.

Over the course of his career, he said it appears that the number of deer is increasing no matter where you’re at in the county.

“They’re everywhere. People ask me, ‘What are your most dangerous roads?'” Albertson said. “Any road that you’re on is going to have something jumping on it. They’ve been on the S-curve. They’re in neighborhoods, gravel roads.”

Andy Albertson, the Kent County Road Commission's "deer sheriff," whose main role is clearing roadkill. (Oct. 17, 2023)
Andy Albertson, the Kent County Road Commission’s “deer sheriff,” at work. (Oct. 17, 2023)

Now, the city of Grand Rapids is looking into a possible deer problem.

During a meeting in August, the city’s Public Safety Committee saw data that showed the number of deer carcasses picked up and nuisance calls involving deer reached a five-year high in 2022.

Meanwhile, the number of car crashes involving a deer has been up and down since 2018.

During the August meeting, First Ward Commissioner Jon O’Connor suggested the city work with the Michigan DNR on the problem.

“I think the next formal step would be that request that the DNR maybe look at our community and see what the population is, so we can make an informed and scientific decision about if we need to do anything or not,” O’Connor said. “I would be in support of that. I ask my other colleagues if they would be in support of that.”

Deer in metro Grand Rapids on Oct. 26, 2023.
Deer in metro Grand Rapids on Oct. 16, 2023.

Deer biologist Chad Stewart said the Michigan DNR assists communities with deer management each year.

“Some cities are trying to reduce deer vehicle collisions,” Stewart, who is with the DNR, said. “Some are trying to address landscape damage.”

After gauging community support, Stewart said the next step is looking at options to manage the deer population. The most common options involve lethal means.

“There are uses of licensed hunters or some sort of a managed hunt,” Stewart said. “And then you’ve got what really amounts to the hiring of different sharpshooters.”

According to Stewart, if Grand Rapids identifies a deer issue, the DNR is open to discussing solutions with city officials.

“It’s certainly a service we’re always providing and certainly available to engage any community with,” Stewart said.

Stewart added that deer populations seem to be on the rise in most of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.