Community steps up to save deer park - WNEM TV 5

Community steps up to save deer park

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)
OGEMAW COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

A Mid-Michigan community stepped up to save a deer park from closing.

The community was dealing with shrinking budgets, which meant some cuts needed to be made.

The Ogemaw Nature Park, known for its up-close experience with Michigan's whitetail deer, was slated to close.

"I think it will be a big tragedy to the community and people that have been coming here for years and years," said Aaron Brookshire, caretaker of the park.

The park is in West Branch and has been entertaining people for years with its variety of interesting animals.

The park is owned by the county, but Brookshire said their license expired and they don't know if the county is willing to spend the money to renew it.

"As of right now we are closed and we will remain closed unless we can figure out a way to come up with enough money to fund the park and its needs and its licenses," Brookshire said.

Brookshire and his wife hoped a GoFundMe page would raise enough money to fund the park on their own.

"I've heard that it's in the ballpark of $17,000 a year total for all of the licenses, the deer feed, the vet visits," Brookshire said.

The GoFundMe account raised more than $6,000. Because of the donations the Ogemaw County Board of Commissioners voted to to apply the funds to the park.

The county will apply for a new license from the USDA to keep the park open.

On top of that, several organizations have expressed a desire to sponsor the park. A sponsor would eventually be in charge of raising funds to pay for park expenses in the future.

The park is home to 14 deer, three of which are rare albinos. If the park shut down the animals would have needed a place to go.

Brookshire said re-homing the deer is a tall task with a lot of requirements.

"You have to have the proper licenses to have the animals, the licenses to transport them. You need to have a set amount of products, enough feed, enough open area for them," Brookshire said.

He said if those requirements were not met and the animals didn't find a new home they could have been euthanized.

"I find it appalling because I'm around these deer every day and they wouldn't hurt a soul. They'll come right up to you and lick your hand," Brookshire said.

Watch: Deer at Ogemaw Nature Park

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