Monday, August 17, 2015

Ruminations on Deer

Tonight, the Ann Arbor City Council will likely vote to hire sharpshooters to cull the city's deer herd this winter. There are strong feelings on both sides of the issue. Deer are beautiful animals and it is wonderful that we have a city that can support large fauna. At the same time, they be come much less adorable once they have decided to browse through your landscaping on a recurring basis. Among potential pest animals in the area, their size and status as a game animal makes them unique: it is both impractical and illegal to trap and relocate deer.

In Michigan, it is illegal to chemically sterilize or trap and relocate deer. I am not sure about the legality of surgical sterilization. Sterilization has been effective at reducing closed deer populations, but has not been tried on a population as large or geographically unconstrained as Ann Arbor's. The efficacy of such a program could be worth investigating as part of a long term deer management strategy, but do to legal, financial and logistical hurdles, it would be at least a couple of years before once could be undertaken.

In our region, the most popular way of dealing with overabundant deer in parks and cities is through the use of sharpshooters. This tends to cost much less than sterilization. Sharpshooters are able to reduce deer populations and densities quickly. They do attract backlashes. Also, long term management of deer populations requires continued culling. Just something to keep in mind as we watch the city council meeting tonight.

You can read more on Ann Arbor's Deer Management Project Page Previously:

Oh Deer


  1. "At the same time, they be come much less adorable once they have decided to browse through your landscaping on a recurring basis."

    they're not here to be adorable to humans. landscaping is not a right.

    1. That's a good point DmS. From a legal standpoint, we give property owners and renters the right to cultivate their yards as they wish within certain limits.

      And yes, the ultimate ends for a deer is not to be adorable. That was probably an uncharitable characterization of some opponents to the cull. Can I ask how you would suggest balancing the rights of a resident versus the rights of a deer? I am genuinely curious.

  2. I'd rather have a Canada Goose cull. The geese around here have simply become vermin. Aggressive, messy vermin. And with bird flu- they can be a vector.