Ludington council re-visiting deer cull topic

September 27, 2023

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Ludington council re-visiting deer cull topic

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

LUDINGTON — Ludington Mayor Mark Barnett would like the City Council to move forward with conducting a cull of the deer population that wanders the city. The topic was brought up last year and then stopped due to a threat of a law suit involving the cull taking place in the Ludington Area School District forest. Barnett recently asked the city’s Public Safety Committee to re-visit the topic. 

“I consider this a public safety topic,” Mayor Barnett said. “This isn’t a matter of deer just eating someone’s hostas but we are now getting reports of deer attacking people’s pets.” 

Barnett said a doe attacked a Fourth Ward resident’s dog recently because the doe’s fawn was in the vicinity. He said that he has received photographs from residents of coyotes now in town, hunting fawns. 

In 2018 and 2019, Ludington High School’s advanced biology class conducted a study to determine how many deer were in the city. The results determined, at that time, there were an estimated 350 deer, according to Barnett. 

“That was four years ago,” he said. “It’s likely that the population has increased since that time.”

Barnett related the cull to action farmers take to reduce the size of the herd. 

“Farmers have to thin the deer herds on their property all the time. This is a necessary action or else the deer will decimate a farmer’s crop. We are looking at doing something before disease spreads in the herds, such as chronic wasting disease or Lyme disease from ticks. These are threats that can spread to pets and people.” 

Barnett said he knows that there are people opposed to killing deer in the city. 

“I am not a person who believes that a deer has the same right to be here as humans,” Barnett said. “I also don’t believe that this herd of deer was here before we were here. What I do know is that we have a problem and that there are experts who we can hire to help us manage this problem.” 

In September 2022, the Council considered an ordinance that would allow the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to cull a select amount of deer within the city limits. At that time, the cull was going to be funded using $50,000 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, which were provided to the city as a result of government shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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