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Comment: Deer cull
is not ecological balance

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A hunter poses with a Ruger American bolt action, .308 caliber rifle. U.S. Department of Agriculture hunters are slated to cull deer in Ann Arbor parks this winter. (However, they’ll be shooting from elevated positions, not from the ground.) | Benjamin Weatherston

A hunter poses with a Ruger American bolt action, .308 caliber rifle. U.S. Department of Agriculture hunters are slated to cull deer in Ann Arbor parks this winter. (However, they’ll be shooting from elevated positions, not from the ground.) | Benjamin Weatherston

This is hardly a culture war (“The culture war over the deer cull,” The Ann, February 2016). It is about a small but well-connected group calling themselves Washtenaw Citizens for Ecological Balance engineering the City Council to promote the agenda of: “Deer don’t belong in our neighborhoods. We must focus on getting them to zero (or almost there) where we live and that’s the WC4EB proposal. The parks and natural areas are also threatened by the deer overabundance and it’s more feasible to conduct culls on public lands than in city neighborhoods. I would support eliminating deer completely from within the city, too, but I’m not sure there is wide support for going to zero there.” (Bernie Banet of WC4EB, March 20, 2015)

The city conducted aerial surveys of deer count in winter 2015 and found 117 and 168 in two counts (and some of these were outside the city). Cull advocates deny that this is a citywide population count, yet in their letter to the Department of Natural Resources requesting a permit to “cull” 100 deer the city’s point person states, “In winter 2015, two aerial surveys were conducted in order to help establish a baseline, and to determine areas of the city where deer were most numerous.” (Part of a letter by David Borneman, deputy manager of volunteerism and natural area preservation, city of Ann Arbor, Parks and Recreation Services, to Kristin M. Bissell of the Michigan DNR.)

So, the city is using these surveys as a count. Use of aerial surveys are estimated to be 50-80 percent accurate, thus with a conservative estimate (50 percent) killing 100 out of a possible 336 deer (remember, there were not even 168 in the city limits), this plan to kill 100 deer in 14 parks this winter would essentially result in eradicating deer entirely from these areas, with the possible exception of orphaned fawns who would not stand a chance.

This is hardly ecological balance and this is by no means natural. It is, however, a tale of political engineering that should be the subject of true investigative journalism.

Lauren Sargent

(via Facebook)

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