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Deer are released for shooting at the Fulda cemetery |

Deer have been eating flowers and plants from graves in a Fulda cemetery for a long time. Now the city is allowing hunting with a special permit. More peaceful methods have failed before.

Jörn Perske

The city of Fulda will soon shoot deer that are attacking flowers, plants and other plant grave decorations in the central cemetery. There has been a “widespread problem” there for a long time, the city explained when asked.

Because other attempts had failed, an “exception to hunting interference” was obtained. The permission was granted by the Lower Hunting Authority of the Fulda district, as the city announced upon request and a report from the Fuldaer Newspaper confirmed.

Plants have been eaten for three years

Damage caused by wild animals was hardly a problem at the Fulda Central Cemetery for many years. Here and there there were nibbled grave plants. But since 2021, the cemetery administration has received regular complaints. There were complaints about destroyed flower beds, plucked flowers and pulled plants.

The city quickly identified the culprits: deer. Seven specimens are currently said to be causing mischief there – and are now being hunted down. Also to avoid further inbreeding.

Hunting in pacified areas only in exceptional cases

It is not so easy for the city to quickly render the animals harmless. Like residential areas, cemeteries are part of so-called pacified districts. Hunting is normally prohibited there and is only permitted in justified exceptional cases.

But after the hunting permit has been granted, things should start soon. The city did not say when it would begin. This is intended to avoid visits from onlookers.

Vet failed with anesthesia

The city said it did not make the decision lightly. A previous attempt to solve the problem failed: a veterinarian wanted to anesthetize the deer and relocate them to a neighboring forest area. “Unfortunately unsuccessful,” said a city spokesman. The dedicated veterinarian failed to achieve his goals.

In order to spoil the deer’s appetite, the city made recommendations for planting in the cemetery. Grave owners could themselves help ensure that the animals have less palatable food sources.

Flowers and shrubs should be planted that deer don’t like: hydrangeas instead of roses, lavender instead of daisies, lilac bushes instead of raspberries. The deer like to eat fresh rose petals, tulips, but also dried wreath berries. Chrysanthemums, daffodils, asters, dahlias and hyacinths, on the other hand, don’t seem to appeal to them, the city wrote in an information flyer. The graves can also be secured with fine nets.

High seats set up in cemetery

But because this does not get to the root of the game problem, the deer should be hunted. One reason for this is the inbreeding of the animals, which initially strayed onto the 15-hectare, not completely fenced-in area. But they have multiplied there, with negative consequences. According to the city, there have already been stillbirths and sick animals due to inbreeding. Because of the consequences of inbreeding, they no longer want to capture the animals and take them to another location – they would rather shoot them.

The city has already set up high stands in the cemetery – a requirement of the hunting authority for security reasons. “Shooting downwards from an elevated position guarantees that the bullet will be caught through the ground,” the city explained.

The city announced that the hunt would of course take place outside of the cemetery’s opening hours. The hunting areas would be cordoned off and additionally secured by supervisors. In order to prevent deer from spreading onto the site again, the area should also be secured by a wildlife protection fence.

Rabbits have been hunted several times

The problem of deer predation also existed in other cemeteries in the district – but probably not as serious as the Fuldaer Zeitung reported. In neighboring Künzell (Fulda), Mayor Timo Zentgraf (independent) said: “We don’t know whether it’s deer, hares or rabbits that are eating something in our cemetery.” A hunter was lying in wait there years ago.

According to the Kassel Regional Council (RP), rabbits were targeted in a Frankfurt cemetery some time ago. This made it possible to reduce the damage caused by wild animals, as the RP reported.

Shooting in cemeteries is difficult

The RP Kassel and the State Hunting Association have no information on how often such shooting permits as in Fulda are issued in Hessian cemeteries. According to an association spokesman, these are exceptional cases.

The association also explained that hunting in a cemetery is generally not easy – given the many gravestones and objects that can serve as protection for deer from shots.

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