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Ann Arbor plans to kill up to 350 deer this winter

Tracy Samilton/Michigan Radio
Anthony Duffiney, a supervisor in the USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services Program, peers through a FLIR device (Forward Looking Infrared) in a wood in the city of Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor will significantly expand its deer cull this winter, requesting trained sharpshooters to kill up to 350 deer.  That's up from the goal of 100 last year (sharpshooters were able to kill 96).

Most of the cull will take place in Wards 1 and 2, north of the river, where as many as 600 deer are living, according to Tom Crawford, who is in charge of the city's deer management program.

He says it's year three of a four-year program, and the city has enough experience with the program now to determine what's needed.

"We're trying to get close to achieving a long term success so that we can move to a maintenance level of success," says Crawford, which means "reduce or eliminate culling as much as possible."

Crawford say the controversy over the cull isn't going away, but the city is doing the best it can to strike a balance among residents' competing views.

"The values of people who really enjoy the deer and want them in their back yards or in their parks are different from the values of people who want to ensure the plant life in the parks or natural areas are sustainable," he says.

The city also wants to reduce the number of deer-car collisions, which have been going up.

Michigan law regarding city deer culls was changed earlier this year, and sharpshooters will now be able to kill deer on private property that is closer than 450 yards to another residence, although the property owner will have to give permission.

Crawford says there have been no accidents nationally during deer culls conducted by trained marksmen, so he is confident everyone will be safe.

Some of the cull will be done in city parks, which could be closed after 4:00 p.m. for up to three weeks during the cull.

The city will also seek to expand a deer sterilization program in areas where a cull can't be done safely.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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