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Opponents still trying to stop deer cull in Ann Arbor

Deer populations appear to be increasing slowly in the UP and the northern lower peninsula, according to Michigan DNR officials.

Ann Arbor city officials spent two years studying what to do about deer that are destroying gardens, defecating in people's yards, and eating young trees.

They did two aerial deer surveys, studied what other cities have done in response to the same problem, held several public meetings, and conducted a survey of residents.

And then they voted - twice - to approve a plan to kill some of the deer.

The program will utilize marksmen from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Division, who will kill up to 100 deer.  The plan also calls for investigating whether there are any non-lethal methods that could be used in the future.

But opponents refuse to give up.  A group called FAAWN - Friends of Ann Arbor Wildlife in Nature - plans to ask  City Council for a moratorium on the cull.

Lisa Abrams of FAAWN says the cull is a waste of taxpayer money, isn't necessary, and is making people afraid.

"It's a huge safety issue for people," says Abrams.  "People are using the parks, and they're alarmed, and we're getting more and more feedback that they're just irate about this."

Other groups, including the Humane Society of Ann Arbor, say killing deer is inhumane and teaches children that violence is an acceptable solution to problems.

A number of city parks will be temporarily closed for up to three months from dusk until dawn on weekdays, to allow marksman to kill the deer. 

The USDA says the cull will be safe, and the marksmen employed for such programs have a flawless safety record.   

Supporters of the cull say the deer are eroding the quality of life for many people in the city.  

They also fear that if the deer population grows even larger, it is only a matter of time before a dreaded tick-borne illness - Lyme disease - shows up in the city.