Believe it or not, the winter weather is turning Eden, South Dakota, into a hotspot of sorts. The population is growing and will actually thin out again when the weather is nice. There’s a reason why visitors are fawning over the town.
The population isn’t overwhelming. According to its sign, 89 people call Eden, South Dakota, home. However, hundreds more are moving in.
“They don’t get too shook up about them even,” Danny Michlitsch said.
If you ask the locals, the newcomers that gather here are “deerly” beloved.
“Deer after deer and down below there’s even more. Everywhere you look, somewhere else there’s more,” Danny said.
The whole town is talking about the deer that showed up after Thanksgiving.
“In the morning when you get up, there’s 40 or 50 of them lying on the streets in town. They’re just walking up and down by the gas station here, by the bank and the elevator. Kind of making themselves at home,” Danny said.
There are even more in the country where Lyle Michlitsch lives.
“Right in the trees, in the trees there,” Lyle Michlitsch said.
He estimates seeing 250 deer. One reason why they keep coming back is the winter has them searching for food and they know people in the area are leaving it for them.
“From my part, they got to live. I mean, they got to be fed. You know, you see them digging out in the snow. They’re digging. They’re looking for something to eat,” Lyle said.
That’s leading to some competition for this catering.
“They stand up on each other and beat each other up a little bit and it’s pretty interesting if you’ve got time to sit and watch, especially at night when they really all come out. Then it gets pretty wild,” Danny said.
Josh Delger with South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks says this winter is tougher than usual for the deer, but is urging homeowners not to go soft.
“We don’t want people to go out there to try to sustain them over the wintertime. They can find food on their own. Sometimes some supplementing doesn’t hurt,” Delger said.
With that many deer in Eden, they’ve become road hazards. Delger wants drivers to be careful so they don’t hit them and possibly hurt themselves.
“There might be a good habitat on one side of a road and then there might be a farm, yard or food source on another side of the road. Particularly when we get highways and things like that, crossing highways, they’ll tend to be problem areas,” Delger said.
Eden isn’t the only community with an influx of deer. A large herd has also been spotted near Eureka.
Again, not everyone appreciates deer looking for food on their land. If you are a home or landowner, and you are having trouble with this, you can call the Game Fish and Parks Department.
So far, Lyle and Danny Michlitsch aren’t complaining. They’re happy to have these newcomers visit Eden, South Dakota,…where the deer population is staggering and the hospitality is overwhelming.
“That’s their bed over there. You get up in the morning at about 6:30. That’s so full of deer, you can’t see the snow,” Lyle said.
“Everybody seems to enjoy them. Good conversation piece, that’s for sure,” Danny said.