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Humane Society of Huron Valley wants to stop Ann Arbor deer cull

Jerry Oldenettel
A DNR official says epizootic hemorrhagic disease outbreaks are happening more frequently in Michigan, possibly because the biting flies that transmit the disease are pushing further north.

"Who teaches kids to kill?"

That's the first sentence of one of the emails and leaflets being distributed by the Humane Society of Huron Valley after the Ann Arbor City Council voted 8 to 1 to approve a deer cull.  

The email continues,

Our City Council is choosing to shoot first. Rochester Hills shot first. Horrified by the blood-soaked snow in the park after their city's first cull in 2009, parents and concerned citizens put a stop to the killing. Rochester Hills has been using non-lethal methods ever since. Their city wildlife biologist reports their deer-vehicle collisions and complaints about deer have decreased. We teach our kids hitting isn't the answer. Violence isn't how we solve problems.

Other emails suggest that children and pets could be caught in the "crossfire" when professional sharpshooters begin the cull in January. The campaign is also distributing yard signs against the cull.

City Councilman Kirk Westphal says he is "disappointed" by the misinformation being disseminated by the campaign.

Westphal praised city staff who conducted deer population aerial surveys and researched non-lethal means of controlling deer populations in cities. 

That research convinced him and others on the council that a cull is the only solution, although the council has also agreed to consider participating in a pilot project trying non-lethal methods.

The cull will concentrate on deer in Wards 1 and 2, which lie north and northeast of the Huron River. 

Residents there report many problems with deer-vehicle collisions, deer living in backyards and losing their fear of humans, destroying gardens, and defecating on lawns. 

A survey of residents in those wards found overwhelming support for a cull.

Residents also fear more deer means more ticks, increasing the risk of Lyme disease, which is transmitted to humans by some ticks.

Westphal says people who want more information about the city's deer management program can find facts on the city's website

He says professional deer cull sharpshooters will not be in residential neighborhoods, and they will be shooting from perches in trees, at night, so there will be no possibility of accidents.

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