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Fifth year of Ann Arbor's controversial deer cull program starts January 2

Stop the Shoot sign
Emma Winowiecki
Michigan Radio
The deer cull has drawn protests from some Ann Arbor citizens in the past.

Ann Arbor will shut down eleven of its city parks and nature areas after 3:00 p.m. every day from January 2-26, to permit sharpshooters to cull its abundant population of deer.

Those include:  Barton Nature Area (only the Foster area north of Warrington Drive), Bird Hills Nature Area, Cedar Bend/Island Park, Foxfire West Nature Area, Huron Parkway/Braun Nature Areas, Leslie Park Golf Course, Leslie Woods Nature Area, Oakwoods Nature Area. Ruthven Nature Area, South Pond Nature Area (only the area in the vicinity of the NAP office at 3875 E. Huron River Dr.), Buttonbush (a new park north of Dhu Varren Road and West of Nixon Road).

Nichols Arboretum will be closed on the following dates only: Jan. 6, 13 and 20 from 3 p.m.–midnight.

Several University of Michigan and Concordia university properties will also be closed every day from 3 p.m. to midnight

Ann Arbor began its deer cull program in 2016, for three primary reasons:

First, residents in some areas of the city complained they were unable to plant trees, flowers, bushes, or gardens on their properties because herds of deer were eating virtually all of the landscaping as soon as it was put in the ground.

Secondly, some of the nature areas and parks in the city were being depleted of flowers and tree seedlings.  Over time, overbrowsing by deer reduces biodiversity and deprives wooded areas of young trees.

Finally, car collisions with deer were increasing.  

Most residents are in favor of the cull, but some continue to call for it to end because they think it's unnecessary and inhumane. In recent years, some opponents of the cull have engaged in disruptions near city parks to attempt to scare the deer away from sharpshooters.

Ann Arbor will need to apply for a new permit from state environmental regulators if it plans to continue the culling after 2020.

Experts say that will be necessary if the city wishes to keep the deer population in check.

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