City of Farmington Hills Convenes South Oakland County Mayors to Discuss Regional Approach to Urban Deer Herd Concerns

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City of Farmington Hills Convenes South Oakland County Mayors to Discuss Regional Approach to Urban Deer Herd Concerns

In an effort to establish a regional strategy for addressing safety concerns related to the urban deer herd, the City of Farmington Hills convened a meeting of local and county leaders Wednesday, when it hosted the March meeting of the South Oakland County Mayor’s Association (SOCMA), a collective in which the City of Farmington Hills participates. Management of the urban deer herd was selected as the discussion topic in alignment with the goal set forth by the Farmington Hills City Council at its January goals study session to work toward creating a systematic solution to an ongoing concern. 

“We saw this gathering as an opportunity to bring together regional leaders from numerous cities and Oakland County to hear from a Michigan Department of Natural Resources expert, as we work together to address the urban deer herd issue,” said City of Farmington Hills Mayor Theresa Rich. “To date, there has been very little collaborative, regional action taken to manage the urban deer herd, and we know that to have a lasting impact, we must work together­. We are pleased to be working closely with regional leaders as we lay the groundwork for a future strategy.” 

Mayor Theresa Rich was joined by members of Farmington Hills City Council, Farmington Hills City Manager Gary Mekjian and other Farmington Hills administrators. Additional attendees at the March SOCMA meeting included representatives from Berkley, Birmingham, Farmington, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Northville, Novi, Southfield, Troy, Wixom and Oakland County.  

“In 2022, more than 60% of Southfield residents voted to cull the urban deer herd, but the reality is, unless we take a coordinated, regional approach, any action would only be a temporary solution to a persistent problem,” said City of Southfield Mayor Kenson Siver. “We’re grateful to the City of Farmington Hills for bringing area leaders together to strategize on this longstanding issue.”

The keynote speaker was Chad Stewart, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) deer, elk and moose management specialist. Prior to his time with the MDNR, Stewart was the statewide deer biologist for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and a wildlife biologist for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. Stewart is also a certified wildlife biologist with a master’s degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and a bachelor's degree in Wildlife, Fish and Wildlands Science and Management from Penn State University. 

Earlier this year, MDNR initiated a comprehensive Deer Management Initiative aimed at evaluating and responding to present-day deer management challenges. The initiative seeks to develop recommendations to address these challenges and ensure the sustainable and healthy management of deer populations and their habitats across the state. In the Lower Peninsula, MDNR faces significant hurdles in managing deer populations due to a number of factors, including changes in land-use pattern. Stewart is at the forefront of this initiative, working to explore and develop diverse solutions to effectively address the challenges ahead. 

The City of Farmington Hills is committed to sustained conversations with regional leaders to establish a safe and effective strategy for addressing urban deer herd concerns across the region. As part of this commitment, the City is an active member of the Southeast Michigan Urban Deer Coalition, which was formed in 2021 as the Oakland County Community Deer Coalition but has since expanded to include municipalities outside of Oakland County. The Coalition is led by City of Farmington Hills Deputy Special Services Director Bryan Farmer.

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