ANN ARBOR – The third annual deer cull is a divisive issue, to say the least.
More than 1,600 people have signed a petition organized by Friends of Ann Arbor Wildlife and Nature, or FAAWN, to stop the killing of local deer, sanctioned by the city between Jan. 2-31.
View the petition on Change.org here.
With the help of contracted sharpshooters from White Buffalo Inc., the city hopes to kill 250-350 deer in this year's cull, up significantly from the 156 deer killed in the last two culls combined.
On one hand, some residents find the practice cruel and inhumane and are pushing for sterilization of doe as an alternative. Robert McGee, the head of a volunteer group that darts and sterilizes deer explained, "In areas where it is not socially acceptable to shoot deer as means to control the populations, yes, surgical sterilization is a proven solution to managing deer populations. Simply put, without ovaries, the does do not reproduce yet live out their lives. Our local humane society, Humane Society of Huron Valley, has sterilized over 11,000 feral cats since 2007. Why not deer?"
On the other hand, the increase of the deer population in Ann Arbor has had harmful effects on both public parks and private residents' gardens and landscaping.
From a safety perspective, over the past five years the number of deer-vehicle crashes was 62; that's an increase from 41 incidents the five years prior to that.
With the new sharpshooting efforts, the city hopes to bring the number of deer-vehicle crashes back down to 40 per year.
However, this year the sharpshooters will be getting closer to occupied buildings than ever before. The state just lifted a mandatory safety zone of 450 feet between active shooting and occupied buildings. White Buffalo says it has carried out shootings without the safety zone in the past without incident.
The shootings will take place in several city parks and on private property with written permission by the owners. Closures of public parks could last three to four weeks.
City of Ann Arbor deer map that tracks population (Click here to view)
The 18 parks set to be closed include:
- Arbor Hills
- Barton - north of the railroad tracks
- Bird Hills
- Foxfire West
- Glazier Hill
- Huron Parkway
- Leslie Woods
- Leslie Park Golf Course
- Narrow Gauge
- South Pond
- Sugarbush - north of Rumsey
- Traver Creek Nature Area
The list is tentative and is set to be finalized by the city in December.
White Buffalo will also be involved in the sterilization of does, which is due to start with pre-baiting traps Dec. 15 and captures set between Jan. 2-15.
It hopes to carry out 40 total sterilizations of female deer -- accounting for 95 percent of the females in all three research zones.
Residents can email DeerManagement@a2gov.org or call Ann Arbor's deer hotline at 734-794-6295 with questions or concerns.
Do you have concerns about the deer cull? Let us know in the comments below.