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E.L. continues conversation about deer population in the city

November 5, 2014

The growing population of white-tailed deer in the city has been a common topic in public conversation for years.

“The city started looking at this issue back as early as 2011 and the city conducted a survey with residents ... at that time the city recognized there were measures we could put in place that we had not yet put in place,” East Lansing Environmental Services Administrator Catherine DeShambo said. “Over the course of the last two years we’ve been putting in place those measures.”

City officials alongside MSU professors from the  Department of Fisheries and Wildlife hosted a meeting with residents on Oct. 30 to educate and receive feedback, DeShambo said.

In 2011, the city conducted an online survey asking residents how concerned they were about the presence of deer in the city and the safety issues having deer around can bring to residents.

According to the city of East Lansing’s survey summary, 60 percent of the 245 respondents reported to have some type of concerns about the deer population in the city — 68 percent of the respondents reported to have concerns about the safety threats that deer can impose on residents, such as car accidents involving the four-legged animals.

Fisheries and Wildlife professor Henry Campa  said although there have been cases of white-tailed deer transmitting bovine tuberculosis in the northern part of Michigan, there have not been cases reported in or near East Lansing.

“This is an ongoing process — we are looking for the must sustainable and long-term practices that we could put in place to ban deer in the city,” DeShambo said. “Certainly we have landscaping and a habitat with parks and lots of recreations and lots of really nice lawns, so deer certainly like that ... we need to find ways to manage that and to do it in a way that is sustainable to the city.”

As part of the city’s effort to control the deer population, East Lansing City Council approved during the summer an ordinance that prohibits residents from feeding deer. Under the ordinance violators could pay up to $250.

In the meantime, the city council is still evaluating some recommendations that experts in wildlife management have given to them.

According to the MSU Extension Office, residents can take action by planting hot peppers, cucumbers, onions, lilacs and marigolds, which can deter deer. Using horizontal barriers helps, too.


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