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Ann Arbor Debates Deer Hunting Within City

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Though city survey shows most residents oppose it, few alternatives for controlling deer population

The exploding deer population in Ann Arbor has sparked a months-long debate over whether to allow hunting inside the city to reduce deer-vehicle crashes and damage to gardens and landscaping, The Ann Arbor News reported.

An online survey through the city’s website has already received more than 350 responses, most of which do not support either trained sharpshooters paid by the city or an expansion of deer hunting into the city.

Though some of the respondents said that culling the deer population through hunting and giving the meat to the poor would be a good solution to the problem, a majority of the residents said they are concerned about unintended injuries from guns or bows used in streets or backyards.

As one resident put it in the city’s Open City Hall webpage:

I hunt deer myself, and I’d be concerned about firearm hunters, except demonstrated, trained marksmen in and out of season. I think bow hunters are much more skilled and cautious, and would be a viable option in-season.

About half of the survey’s respondents said their gardens or landscaping have been damaged by deer. About 50 deer-vehicle crashes were reported within Ann Arbor last year, according to the article.

As another resident put it:

In 2014, I have sustained thousands of dollars of damage to my property. My landscape has been a 15-year project of mine, with all work being done (and plantings paid for) by me. I am absolutely sick about it. Let’s face it, a city is an artificial construct. We need natural predators, and if sharpshooters are the only viable option we have, they should be here!

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The issue is not unique to Ann Arbor.

Other major cities around the country have begun to grapple with problems caused by an over-abundance of deer, including Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York City and even Washington, D.C., where the National Park Service pays sharpshooters to conduct nighttime hunts in the city’s parks and other deer-filled areas.

Uncontrolled hunting of both deer and their natural predators led to a dwindling population of whitetail deer in the 1930s, when an estimated 500,000 deer were left in the entire country, according to the National Park Service.

Hunting restrictions resulted in an explosive rebound for the deer in recent decades, though not for their natural predators. Add to that the rise of suburbs, where deer can find plenty to eat, and the results speak for themselves.

Cities like Ann Arbor have looked at some non-hunting options, like contraception and sterilization, but those are untested and could cost even more taxpayer money than paying sharpshooters.

With few other options, hunting in cities could become more common as deer populations continue to rise.

The question is: Is that a good thing?

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Ann Arbor Debates Deer Hunting Within City