Deer Management

The number of deer within the City had increased when an artificially attractive food source became available through people directly feeding or indirectly feeding (bird feeders) the deer.  This resulted in growing the herd that became acclimated to the urban existence and began to cause noticeable problems.  The City of Manistee recognized that there was a problem in 2014 when City Council approved a “cull” with up to 50 permits issued by the DNR for the taking of deer by local law enforcement.  Prior to implementation of the cull the action was rescinded.  In 2015 City Council appointed an Ad Hoc Deer Herd Committee that spent six months collecting data, conducted a survey and presented a report of findings to City Council.

Do not feed the deer - it is illegal!

One of the steps that the City took in the effort to reduce the City deer herd was to adopt an ordinance (Section 606.08 Feeding Deer, Wild Turkeys and other Wild Mammals) that prohibits the feeding of deer (and other wild animals) within the City.  This ordinance was developed to eliminate the supplementation of the natural food supply.  Naturally occurring food sources should be more readily available in the wild (outside of the City). 

What can you do?

Some people have found success by using repellents and/or fencing to deter deer.  There is no guarantee any of these methods will work. While one will work for some it may not work for another. 


There are many commercial scent repellents that are available  at department stores, nurseries and home improvement stores.  Follow instructions carefully (some need to reapplied after rain). 

Some homemade repellents include:

  • Used cat litter sprinkled around plant
  • Bloodmeal sprinkled around plants (will also supply the soil with nitrogen)
  • Hang strong scented deodorant soap (in the wrapper) on wires 30” above ground
  • Egg spray (recipes can be found online) 
  • Tabasco sauce spray (recipes can be found online) 
  • Garlic spray (recipes can be found online) 


Install a double fence (two 4-foot high fences approximately 5 feet apart with 2” x 2” mesh).  Deer are unable to jump both fences at one time.  Cover plants with chicken wire and wrap the trunks of young trees with wire mesh.  

Useful Documents

Deer Resistant Plants

Final Report of the Ad Hoc Deer Herd Committee

Urban Deer Technical Guide

Watch for Deer All Year (Michigan Deer Crash Coalition)

Keeping Deer Out of Your Yard