How did this issue start in the first place?
According to the City Council, the issue of deer management in Ann Arbor started several years ago; "first, because some residents experienced significant deer damage to their landscaping. Following that, a different set of residents began asking whether there was damage in the public areas caused by deer. An overlapping group became concerned about safety -- ticks, car accidents, aggression."
In 2014, a City report intended to outline deer management options for City Council says there was no vegetation damage by deer to our city parks, including city golf courses. Since that time, they've determined otherwise and are now pointing to deer eating plants in parks as an issue.
Ticks are an issue, but they're not a deer issue. Though they can hitch a ride on deer, they can do so on other animals, too-- including dogs; and the most recent research on Lyme disease shows deer are innocent. Read more here.
I don't live in Ann Arbor; should I get involved?
Just because you don't live in an area doesn't mean you lose the right to express your thoughts on what is happening there. Animals cannot speak; they need everyone's voice.
Are you related to ___?
The Humane Society of Huron Valley is an independent organization, and we are not associated or affilated with the Humane Society of the United States or any other group or organization.
Isn't a cull more humane than deer getting hit on the road or dying from starvation or disease?
Our deer are not starving or ailing and are not in need of mercy killing. In fact, proponents of a cull mention there are too many deer, and they're frustrated with "fat" deer eating their gardens! As for road safety, we can all agree that we'd like zero car-deer collisions. But unless we're going to wipe out all wildlife, we can't get to this goal; shooting some deer isn't going to fix it. However, there are very effective ways to reduce car-deer collisions -- much more effective ways than shooting deer. And as for culls being humane, videos of culled deer who were missed by a shot (no sharpshooter has 100% accuracy), with their heads wrapped in a bag while they kick and suffocate, would say differently.
But aren't they donating the meat to the needy?
By state law, meat generated from a cull must be donated; this is not a virtuous decision, and the City has not revealed how this will be done or how the dressing and distribution will be paid for. And while we can all agree that feeding the needy is a good cause, we worry that this is being used to justify a cull. Using that same logic, should we kill lions because we can make coats for the homeless? This issue is about human/wildlife conflict; we'd like to use the safest, most effective way.
Aren't there a zillion deer-car deaths?
Ann Arbor has zero recorded deaths from deer-car collisions. And state-wide, we had 6 deer-vehicle collisions last year; all were on motorcycles. Of course, we'd all like to limit deer-vehicle collisions as much as possible, and the most effective and proven way to do that is fencing. Read more here.
But I'm okay with hunting.
This issue has nothing to do with hunting or eating meat. This is about how we choose manage wildlife conflict within our community. The Humane Society of Huron Valley does not take a stance against hunting, and we stand with many hunters who find a city cull unsafe, unjustified and a waste of money. (And many hunters believe we have too few deer in our state!)
Why can't we just relocate them?
Not only is it illegal in Michigan, but also relocating wild animals places a severe amount of stress on them, and they often die from not being able to find the resources they need to survive.
Don't deer cause Lyme disease?
This is a myth. Deer don't carry Lyme disease; ticks do. Ticks rely on hosts like deer for their life cycle, but culling some deer won't eliminate our community's risk for Lyme disease. Read more about it here.
What do you suggest instead of a cull?
Non-lethal methods, like those used in nearby Rochester Hills. Rochester Hills had one cull in 2009, and their residents were horrified at the outcome. Ever since then, they've been using non-lethal methods including education, signage, and a feeding ban-- and they report being happy with the results. Their city wildlife biologist reports their deer-vehicle collisions and their citizen complaints about deer have decreased.
I hear there's a fertility control experiment planned. Shouldn't you be working on that?
For three years, the City's deer management plan included a sterilization component done via a 3-year special research permit issued by the MDNR. The permit limited the number of deer who could be sterilized, and they've reached that number. In addition, unfortunately, the state of Michigan recently passed legislation prohibiting sterilization as a deer management option.
How is the "Stop the Shoot" campaign being funded?
We have received unsolicited, designated donations from concerned citizens to pay for yard signs and door hangers. Absolutely NO city/county contract dollars are used on the advocacy efforts. We have not and are not asking for funds for this campaign.
Is this really happening in Ann Arbor?
It's hard to believe that the city that helped launch the Peace Corps would start any conflict resolution with violence. Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan, consistently ranked among the nation's best universities and top public institutions; and the city's convention and visitors bureau calls Ann Arbor "the state's rare jewel." Perhaps the thought of, "I can't believe this would happen in Ann Arbor" is why this is happening in the first place.