On Jan. 9, the Ludington, Michigan City Council shot down a proposed deer hunt, delivering a much needed and deserved victory for these beloved mammals.

The Council had recently voted to enter a contract with the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to slaughter at least 40 deer within the city using $50,000 of American Rescue Plan Act funds, which were provided to the city because of government shutdowns during the pandemic. Permitted hunters would have been allowed to bait the kill zone, shoot at night, and use night vision equipment and silencers beginning this year.

Friends of Animals was notified of the sick scheme, which would have continued for three years, by Ludington resident Terry Grams. We contacted city officials and rallied our members to do the same to tell them they opposed killing deer and would boycott the resort town this summer if they moved forward with such bloodshed.

“How is it OK to kill a female deer because she ate some of your flowers?” asked Grams, who launched a website, stopthecull.org to protest the killing spree.

“When I started to put the website together, I was searching information on animal rights organizations and found Friends of Animals.  I looked on the site for contact information and Pricilla Feral wrote back to me and that is where it started. Several organizations wrote back, but FoA was the only one that took independent action to help. That was extremely helpful not only because I am sure city officials took note of a large organization supporting my efforts and the consequences of the potential of negative publicity, but for the encouragement it gave me to keep going.”

“We applaud Terry Grams for his energetic, resourceful activism and for his persistence,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals. “Elected officials do have to be held accountable and we hope this story inspires our members around the country to work tirelessly to protect wildlife in their midst. This victory is more proof that public backlash matters.”

The Councilors were considering the wrong-headed plan based on signatures of a measly 83 residents, who undoubtedly were told by deer hunters that pumping bullets or arrows into deer stops all of them from nibbling on unprotected azalea bushes, or some such ludicrous thing.

That, of course, is not true. Shooting deer doesn’t keep those left behind off roads, either. In fact, it moves them around and makes them more likely to enter roads without caution.

Public education is the sane alternative to this ludicrous plan. Residents need to change the type of plants and shrubs they have in their yards. Friends of Animals also advocate for other methods to protect areas from heavy browsing, like fencing that can inconspicuously protect sensitive plants and spray repellents.

Bullets and the havoc they produce are not decent solutions for living with neighboring wildlife. Shooting deer is cruel, dangerous and feeds the mentality that the only good deer is a dead one. While 6.7% of Michigan’s residents have paid hunting licenses, more than 93% of residents opt for wildlife-watching or other non-violent pursuits.

If you would like to help us continue to protect wildlife and take action for animals, please consider making a donation today.