Since the Ludington City Council approved a deer cull for this winter back in October, this reporter has been visiting Cartier Park on a regular basis to check out the deer situation and the construction of two bathhouses (worth $1.4 million) in the campground.  Once the cull was approved to happen in the city limits, Cartier Park was the obvious choice for the grounds where culling was to take place, as it was the only forested natural area in the city of any size (greater than 3 acres).  

Back in January, while the untreated OSB making up the roofs of the bathhouses were exposed for a month to the elements, I saw a small group of deer crossing through the cemetery.  I saw a couple more in February moving through the forest.  But the two dozen other times of trekking through the few hundred acres that make up the park, cemetery, leaf corral, and campground, I've only seen squirrels and other critters that aren't being targeted.  

Yesterday, March 9th, a nice Saturday for a walk, I finally hit golden paydirt.  I didn't see any deer, mind you, but I found the gold signs of a cull-yet-to-come.  Part of the deer cull has always been the concept of pre-baiting, spreading food that deer find tasty on the ground in an area, so as to get deer to go there on a regular basis, and tell their family and friends about the bountiful buffet.  Cresting a hill near a rarely used path, I came upon the following sight spread out on a couple dozen square yards of the forest floor:

Someone had gone to this area with a couple of bags of feed corn and spread it out on the ground.  It was a good area to do this, as it overlooked the park's thickest hemlock and pine forest that deer like to seek shelter in during Michigan's cold winters and offered an alternative to the bland winter fare that is usually in short supply around this time of the year.  

Nobody was around to take the credit for dropping this corn, but I know that the Michigan DNR has banned baiting and feeding deer in the lower peninsula, worries are that Chronic Wasting Disease may get spread a lot easier among the deer herd when that happens.  I didn't want that to happen, and I also knew that the city code section 34.99 states:

It doesn't get much clearer in figuring out that the state and city are against such feeding at Cartier Park, against it enough to give someone a healthy fine for doing such acts, so I knew I had to do something to set things right, but I didn't want anyone to get in trouble for making a bad choice of baiting/feeding deer in a city park.  

And one has to wonder as to why somebody would leave a baiting area in Cartier Park and come to the conclusion that it was for the eventual killing of the animal being baited.  Section 34-100 of the city code says:  "No person shall shoot, discharge or otherwise use a firearm, crossbow, slingshot or other dangerous weapon in any street, avenue, alley, parking lot, public place or on private property within the city."  And then there's this other section about firearms in a park and their restrictions on everyone other than law enforcement officers:

Obviously, with all of the other state and local laws being broke by this baiting inside of a city park, a police officer didn't do this act.  So mindful that I didn't want to get anybody else in trouble for making a bad choice by despoiling the park with their corn and potentially making a worse choice by possessing and/or discharging a firearm in Cartier Park, I cleaned the area up, saved the deer from spreading CWD, and removed the corn from two dozen square yard area.

I did what any civic-minded citizen would do, so if the council wants to offer me a special proclamation on a plaque or Mayor Barnett wants to grant me a key to the city for my efforts, I will have to decline the offers for now.  All I ask is for some leniency for the offender who violated the state and local laws by their attempts to feed the deer; if city officials catch the offender doing this again, just give them a stern warning and have them clean up after themselves.

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X your civic responsibility knows no bounds.

I agree with shinblind. Civic duty comes first. Although I don't think the squirrels will agree with me.


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