Is this the end of the City of Ann Arbor's controversial deer cull?
Mlive.com reports the cull was ended early on Jan. 23 after sharpshooters reduced Ann Arbor's deer population by 109 animals. This number is lower than the 150 animals the city hired the non-profit deer management service White Buffalo Inc. to harvest.
White Buffalo is currently preparing an assessment report of the five years of operation. They also continued monitoring the deer herd via trail cameras and helicopter surveys. Mlive reports the city was originally only supposed to do culls for four years until the Michigan DNR approved one extra.
In many ways, this urban deer management plan has been one of the most controversial in North America right now. The Ann Arbor city council first began considering the cull back in 2014 to combat overpopulation in the city's deer. The cull was met with mixed opinion by the city's residents. Partially because sharpshooting operations shut down city parks and other natural areas for weeks on end.
Protesters also actively worked to push deer out of the culling zones in Ann Arbor parks and nature areas. As a result, these deer often fled into off-limits safety areas near schools.
Additionally, the city also experimented with nonlethal control methods including sterilization. Those efforts were met with both praise and criticism. In at least one case, sterilization appeared to directly contribute to the death of a female deer.
Interestingly, it appears the cull had no effect on the number of deer-car collisions, a major reason often cited for the cull. Mlive reports the number of incidents averaged 62 in the last five years. The five years before that, it was 41.
So, will this be the last year for the Ann Arbor deer cull? Maybe, maybe not. Mlive reports the council members plan to wait and see the results of White Buffalo's reports before making plans for any future culls.