Fishers cast their lines during a past Southfield fishing derby. The Southfield Wildlife Commission is seeking residents’ input on its Wildlife and Related Habitat Restoration Survey.

Fishers cast their lines during a past Southfield fishing derby. The Southfield Wildlife Commission is seeking residents’ input on its Wildlife and Related Habitat Restoration Survey.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Wildlife Commission seeks resident input through online survey

‘We’re just trying to make our residents comfortable in their own homes’

By: Jacob Herbert | Southfield Sun | Published May 13, 2021

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SOUTHFIELD — Community engagement is an important way to take residents’ concerns into consideration before making big decisions, according to city officials.

The Southfield Wildlife Commission is next in line to seek out resident input with the recent initiation of its Wildlife and Related Habitat Restoration Survey.

The purpose of the survey is to obtain anonymous information that can be used to statistically analyze responses and results to reach objective conclusions. The commission will also use the survey results as a basis for discussions and for potential recommendations to the Southfield City Council.

“This initial survey is going to be baseline, because we really want to get public input so that we can advise the City Council as to how to handle the wildlife in this city and come up with a wildlife management plan,” said Wildlife Commission Chair David Sheaffer. “Due to COVID restrictions, we haven’t been able to do public workshops as much as we wanted. Our hope is that the survey will give us at least an initial understanding of what some of the priorities of the city’s residents are.”

The survey can be found at cityofsouthfield.com/form/wildlife-commission-survey-2 and will be available at least through the end of May.

The survey is split into six parts and includes questions about demographics, as well as wildlife knowledge, experiences, values, activities and expectations.

For a while now, Southfield residents have reported incidents with deer causing vehicle crashes, and damage to landscapes and property. Residents have also reported coyote sightings.

“In talking with the DNR and other various communities that have decided to do some kind of wildlife management plan, we have heard from pretty much everywhere that public input is key,” Sheaffer said. “Communities that have had success have largely had success because they had the support of the community and they got the community involved. A lot of communities that haven’t had success linked it to a lack of public input or miscommunication.”

While the commission does not have any governing power, it can make recommendations to the City Council. However, if residents don’t fill out the survey, the commission is limited in what it can do to help.

“We want to see what their concerns are before we go to council and we say, ‘We must do this,’ or, ‘We must do that.’ It takes the city time and it costs the city money,” Commissioner Janelle Konstam said. “If it doesn’t need to be done because the residents don’t think it’s problematic, then we wouldn’t address it. We’re just trying to make our residents comfortable in their own homes.”

Sheaffer was able to offer several solutions to the deer problem that the commission may explore. Planting deer-resistant, rabbit-resistant and pest-resistant plants is a fix that has been discussed. Sheaffer mentioned the possibility of a website dedicated to the Wildlife Commission. There, residents can stay up to date on what the commission is doing while learning more about specific types of plants that will repel deer. The commission hopes to work with the Southfield Parks and Garden Club on plant-based solutions.

“Hopefully, we come up with recommendations for people who don’t want deer around: things they can plant in their yard that are nonlethal weapons to keep them away,” Konstam said.  “At the same time, the wildlife is here to stay. We’re in their environment and they’re in ours. So it’s about finding a way to coexist peacefully with the wildlife in our area.”

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