Growing deer population sparks debate in Ann Arbor


ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Some people who live in Ann Arbor had a very passionate discussion about deer at Monday night's City Council meeting. Council was trying to come up with a plan to control the deer population but not everyone agreed with the method.

The room was packed for this issue that's caused a lot of emotional debate lately. Residents on both sides of the issue of deer culling spoke out at a public hearing. Nearly 50 people lined up for their opportunity to stand before the mic and tell council how they felt about the issue.

"It is humane when a deer herd is too large by dropping a deer with a single quick kill bullet to the brain. The deer doesn't know what hit it," said one resident.

On the one hand, you have folks who believe the killing of deer is unnecessary and inhumane.

"We feel that there are alternatives for culling deer. We feel that Ann Arbor being as progressive as it is, really needs to show the state of Michigan that there are non-lethal methods," said Robert McGee, president of the Ann Arbor Residents For Non-Lethal Deer Management.

And on the other side are people who say the deer population is out of control, causing car wrecks and damage to people's yards.

"When you don't allow hunting and you have no natural predators, the deer multiply and they become pests eventually. In two wards in Ann Arbor we've reached that point," said Bernie Banet of the Washtenaw Citizens For Ecological Balance.

There were three different options council was considering. One was to start an annual culling program of approximately 100 deer beginning this winter. The second option was to try deer fertility control methods. The final option was a combination of both by starting the annual culling program while continuing to explore fertility control methods.

The meeting lasted more than four hours with council expected to vote in favor of deer culling.

The council voted unanimously on using both culling and non-lethal fertility control methods. Mayor Christopher Taylor was the lone voter against shooting. He wanted fertility control to be the only method used. The culling will start this winter with the use of sharp shooters, and the non-lethal methods will likely start next winter.

Representatives from the group Ann Arbor Residents For Non-Lethal Deer Management say they will take steps to launch a citywide campaign to amend the charter and put the question the ballot for the fall of 2016 to let the residents decide.