Professional sharpshooters will cull the city's deer population this month, leading to the closure of 16 Ann Arbor parks from 3 p.m. to midnight daily through the end of January.
According to the city of Ann Arbor, park closures starting Monday, Jan. 8 from 3 p.m. until midnight include: Arbor Hills Nature Area, Barton Nature Area (Foster area north of Warrington Dr. only), Bird Hills Nature Area, Foxfire West Nature Area, Glazier Hill Nature Area, Huron Parkway/ Braun Nature Areas, Leslie Park Golf COurse, Leslie Woods Nature Area, Narrow Gauge Way Nature Area, Oakridge Nature Area (East of Huron Parkway only), Oakwoods Nature Area, Olson Park (dog park and parking lot to remain open), South Pond Nature Area (only the area in the vicinity of NAP office at 3875 E. Huron River Dr.), Stapp Nature Area, Sugarbush Park (North of Rumsey Dr.), Traver Creek Nature Area.
Starting Jan. 8, several select University of Michigan and Concordia properties will also be closed from 3 p.m. to midnight daily.
The Humane Society of Huron Valley advises residents to be aware of the sharpshooters, noting that dogs might be tempted by bait placed to attract deer. The city mailed advisory postcards to residents in Wards 1 and 2 living adjacent to closed parks. Neighbors of select private property owners who have given permission to cull deer on their property will will also be notified.
The cull was first introduced in 2015 as part of a deer management program designed to decrease deer/vehicle collisions, deer-borne diseases, and the reported damage of landscaping and natural areas.
Last October, the city approved a resolution to contract sharpshooters from White Buffalo Inc. to both lethally remove and sterilize a portion of the city's deer population as part of the 2018 Deer Management Program. The deer cull calls for the removal of up to 250 deer in parks, nature areas and select private lands from Jan. 6 to Jan. 31. White Buffalo also plans to pneumatically dart up to 26 female deer for temporary removal and surgical sterilization before returning them to the three areas where they were caught.
The city's deer management program has not come without controversy. Animal rights activists regularly attend city council meetings to voice discontent with the cull since its inception. In March of 2016, around fifty gathered in the downtown library lot for a "memorial rally" honoring the lives of the 63 deer that had been shot by city-hired sharpshooters. And this past November, a petition circulated by the group Friends of Ann Arbor Wildlife and Nature garnered 1,500 signatures in an effort to stop the city's deer cull efforts.