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University of Michigan-Dearborn project to reduce deer population 50-70 percent

Venison from cull to be donated to local food banks

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DEARBORN, Mich. – Sharpshooters will take to the University of Michigan's Dearborn campus to cut the deer population with a weeklong deer cull starting Saturday.

In a statement released Thursday, University of Michigan officials stated the wooded 300-acre study area on the Dearborn campus's western side has experienced damage believed to be caused by deer overpopulation. 

The college's Environmental Interpretive Center has conducted aerial surveys of the deer population over the last five years and have discovered the deer population is 13% higher than the documented 2017 population. Officials said the cull is necessary to the university's ability to preserve the diversity and health of vegetation, wildlife and ecology of the study area.

The potential threat of a student catching Lyme disease is also a contributing factor.

The 2018 study found the deer population has grown to 70 from 62 in 2017. The number of deer in the 2016 study was 54. 

Other options were considered, including a sterilization, building 10-foot high fence and relocating the deer, but they were deemed too expensive, not effective or not permitted in Michigan. The university decided the most humane and logical option is the cull.

The cull is expected to begin Saturday and continue for approximately one week. Dearborn police will collaborate with the Wayne County Sheriff's Department to secure the study area each prior to the cull, estimated to occur between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. each night, to ensure the safety of the students and others in the community.

"The deer have been destructive to the ecology, wildflowers and tree species that are disappearing or being altered," campus spokesman Ken Kettenbeil said. "It's really impacting the make up of that area."

The cull, estimated to cost approximately $20,000, will be performed by Berg's Animal & Bug Control and is aiming to cut the deer population from 70 to 20-30. A special permit for the deer population control strategy was obtained from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The venison from the killed deer will be donated to Gleaners Community Food Bank. Close to 800 pounds of meat was donated after the 2015 cull.

The university has posted additional information about the cull and a frequently asked questions document on the university website.