Ann Arbor — November 19, 2017 at 10:24 am

Saving human lives is more important than killing deer


As winter begins, the Ann Arbor City Council’s fixation on lawn care for the rich could have deadly consequences

After losing $100,000 in funding last year, Ann Arbor’s Delonis Center homeless shelter was forced to close a floor full of beds that were badly needed. Meanwhile, the city is spending more than that to shoot local deer.

You probably understand the danger of eliminating needed beds in a homeless shelter as the snow falls. But you may wonder why the city decided it’s more important to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars just to kill deer?

The justifications for this lethal expense have shifted faster than the Bush administration’s excuses for invading Iraq.

From bad science about Lyme disease to the “impact on our natural areas,” most recently, proponents of the cull have focused on the need to reduce reported deer-vehicle collisions. Collisions are definitely a concern, though it took until last month before extra “deer crossing” traffic signs began to appear in appropriate areas.

And deer are far from Ann Arbor’s biggest traffic problem.

According to police statistics, cars hitting wildlife is much less a problem for Ann Arborites than bike-vehicle collisions. These tragically common collisions involving cyclists have resulted in actual deaths in Ann Arbor, while, thankfully, no human has died in an Ann Arbor deer-vehicle crash.

Even focusing on any rise in deer-vehicle collisions over the past five years is odd, considering that cull has been going on for the last two years, 40 percent of that time.

Is the cull attracting more deer into Ann Arbor?

That possibility is just as likely as the cull serving any other purpose than offering free lawn care service to our neighbors who are fortunate enough to own homes in the more wild areas that attract deer.

But this isn’t even about deer.

These well-organized champions of public-financed deer extermination have convinced the city that their pet project is more important than sheltering the homeless. Actual human beings.

And they’ve also convinced their captive Council members to adopt methods of culling that are increasingly dangerous to Ann Arbor’s residents.

“In addition to parks and nature areas, the city has acknowledged some shooting of firearms is expected on private properties to carry out the January cull, and the state’s 450-foot safety rule — in terms of the distance between shooters and occupied buildings — no longer applies, which has some residents concerned shooting could occur in their neighborhoods and near their homes without them knowing,” MLive‘s Ryan Stanton reports.

So there will be shooting on private property this winter. Private residents are then charged with alerting their neighbors, while the city will simply send out postcards to inform them that gunmen will be lingering in their neighboring backyards.

The city claims it wants to kill 250 to 350 deer this year. You may wonder how many will they need to kill before they’re satisfied?

They won’t say. Proponents of the cull have refused to suggest an acceptable deer population or even back a solid accounting of our current population. Because if they did either of these things, the cull might possibly end, and we could do things like fully fund our homeless shelter.

And they won’t let that happen. The deer cull lobby in Ann Arbor is pretty damn good. What we need now is a saving humans lobby.

If you think human lives matter more than deer, sign this petition to reopen the closed floor at the Delonis Center now.

But given the sway deer-executing forces have with Ann Arbor’s government, you may also want to make a gift to the Delonis Center, if you can.


  • judyms9

    As one who has struck a deer with my car while travelling in the fog at night near Alpena, I can agree that when the herd gets too large there are dangers for humans, but the funding is not a binary choice between homeless humans and deer. Pay the bounty for deer and the cost of processing it for use by shelters and soup kitchens. And if wildlife encroachment persists as a problem, levy a local animal control tax.
    Sadly, aside from a few voices of conscience in the media and a few social workers, the homeless have no lobbyists to make their case for them. Pointing out that a high percentage of them are veterans or disabled people doesn’t pique the interest of the powers that be either. The erosion of compassion is rotting the nation from the inside, a far greater threat than all of our enemies on the outside. Certainly a far greater threat than deer eating people’s hostas.

  • Dan Michniewicz

    The deer cull is a waste of money. It’s been a “solution in search of a problem” (cliche but an apt one) for sure. Thank you for taking the time to write this. Can’t wait till the city leadership collectively comes to its senses a few years down the road and gives up on it. This will happen after 1) the yearly helicopter flyovers show that the deer population hasn’t changed significantly and 2) deer-car collisions haven’t decreased. Of course when they stop the cull they will all pat themselves on the back and say that it has accomplished what it set out to do…which was what again? Oh yeah, the hostas.

    • Dan Michniewicz

      Or maybe the reason is that we have to use tax dollars to kill the deer so that they don’t get chronic wasting disease later on..and die.

  • Mark Mudry

    So someone in the local government figured they needed to pay hunters to kill overpopulated deer herds. Hmm, bet there are plenty of hunters out there fully qualified to do the job. They probably would do it for the cost of the bullets. Did anyone ask? How about asking the local auto insurance companies to kick in for the cost of the ammo (its to save on deer-vehicle crashes, right?). With all the money saved, reopen that floor of beds!

  • BurinMRB

    Killing deer in our area will just mean that more will move in from other areas of Michigan. [We DON’T have a wall around Ann Arbor–in case you haven’t noticed! [And, yes, there are plenty of qualified deer hunters here, who would do the cull for FREE! [I know at least one.]