It's official: the white-tailed deer is the state mammal

I wish there was a way that I could properly congratulate the family of deer in my neck of the woods. What? Have I gone mad? The short answer is “yes,” but the fact is that deer tend to make landowners and motorists “go mad.” From ending up on our front grills to eating up our landscapes, the deer in the Peach State can get the better of us.

Recently, the white-tailed deer have been honored as the official state mammal by the Georgia General Assembly. I wanted to personally bestow the honor upon my neighborhood deer. I just wish they would remain still as I approach them. I confess that there are times I think that they actually will remain still when they see me, but they obviously have some kind of buffer zone or “social space.”

With the official recognition, there is a bit of a backstory with how all of this has happened. In the recent legislative session, it was the gray fox that was going to receive the official state mammal honor. Like many other states, a group of kids propose this type of feel-good legislation. In the case of Georgia, a group of Boy Scouts made the gray fox proposal. Enter in the state Department of Natural Resources which “convinced” the boys and eventually the Georgia General Assembly to change the recognition to the white-tailed deer.

OK, what gives? After all, what’s wrong with the gray fox? Who knows how the DNR approached the boys. What did they know and when did they know it? No one is asking the tough questions. Was there some chicanery going on over at the state DNR or down under the Gold Dome to make this change happen?

As expected, the Georgia General Assembly overwhelmingly passed the legislation in favor of the deer, but there still remain unanswered questions which have yet to be explored by the state media. Both the deer and the DNR don’t seem to be talking, but a few legislators had something to say. Those legislators were concerned that deer would get special protections which could have spelled the end for hunting and producing venison. Those who were in favor of the deer honor said that no such protections would exist for deer. So rest assured, Peach State citizens, one may still hunt our large yet lean furry official mammals.

What does this official honor mean for deer? The answer is pretty much nothing other than a bit of publicity. Perhaps this “much-needed public relations” is necessary to make hunters aware that there’s plenty of venison to be made in the Peach State.

Now some could say that state legislatures are wasting time and money on frivolous bills like making the deer the official state mammal. Here in Georgia, this is all a teachable moment. The kids learned how to deal with a state agency. The General Assembly learned how to come together and compromise on an issue. This sounds like everyone is pretty much happy with this feel-good legislation.


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