News Article

header image
Skip Navigation LinksHome » News » News Article

City Announces 2018 Deer Management Plan Details

Archived News Release: December 4, 2017 - On October 16, City Council approved a resolution to contract with White Buffalo, Inc. for combined surgical sterilization and sharpshooting management services for the City of Ann Arbor's 2018 deer management program.

The approved lethal cull for the winter of 2018 aims to address the impact of deer browsing in select areas with the lethal removal of up to 250 deer. The city's contractor, White Buffalo, will work under a Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) amended "research" permit that will allow the city to also sterilize female deer in up to three zones in Wards 1 and 2. In addition, the city will continue educational efforts and signage as part of a three-pronged strategy to deer management. Visit the Deer Management website for more details about signage locations and education efforts.

The City is continuing to invest in the collection of data to monitor the impacts of each of these efforts and to provide accurate information for public policy discussion on local deer management activities. 

The 2018 program will include:   

  • Sterilization (non-lethal) — pneumatically darting up to 26 female deer in up to three areas, temporarily removing and surgically sterilizing female deer and returning them to the area where they were found. Like last year, the city will mail sterilization information directly to residents in impacted areas.
  • Lethal — sharpshooting and lethally removing up to 250 deer on public lands and, to supplement available locations, some city-selected private parcels with appropriate owner consent. The city will mail park-closure postcards directly to residents adjacent to closed parks in Wards 1 and 2. Where selected private property owners have given permission, the abutting neighbors will also be notified prior to the use of the parcel.

Sterilization (Non-Lethal) Program

From Jan. 2 through Jan. 7, up to three areas in Wards 1 and 2 will have deer sterilization activities performed every day from 3 p.m. to 5 a.m. by the city's contractor, White Buffalo. These areas were selected where sharpshooting of deer cannot occur, but darting and surgical sterilization of deer can take place per a special state permit. Working in a new third sterilization zone is allowed per the amended MDNR permit, but the priority for sterilization will be to first obtain 98 percent sterilization in the two existing zones prior to working in the third zone. Refer to the 2018 Deer Management Map on the project webpage to view sterilization areas.

It is unlikely that residents will notice the actual darting activities because, while some darting will occur at designated bait stations in the late afternoon (after 3 p.m.), most work will be done during nighttime hours, when deer are most active (and people generally are not). 

Sterilization Implementation Details

  • Residents' daily routines will not need to change, and there will be no closures of parks.
  • Select public lands will be utilized for darting, but public access will not be impacted.
  • No university lands will be utilized for sterilization activities.

White Buffalo Inc. wildlife professionals will locate female deer and dart them with tranquilizer darts equipped with tracking devices. This will be done from marked, stationary vehicles on public roadways and at bait stations at designated sites within program areas. Female deer will be darted by highly experienced personnel who are specially trained to dart female deer in an urban setting with precision and accuracy. Unlike firearms, pneumatic darting guns have a limited range (30-40 feet).

Once darted, the female deer will be tracked until they are unconscious (typically just a few minutes), and then transported to a temporary surgical site where a veterinarian will perform ovariectomies. All sterilized female deer will be fitted with numbered ear tags, and one mature female in each group will be radio-collared to facilitate future program efforts, track migration rates and patterns and assess survival rates.

The entire process, from initial darting to release, takes approximately one hour per deer. Residents living near the designated areas will be informed of sterilization plans via a flyer mailed from the city, which will arrive in mid-December.   

Lethal Program

The amended MDNR permit also allows White Buffalo sharpshooters to lethally remove up to 250 deer in designated City of Ann Arbor parks, nature areas and city-selected private parcels. The permit allows lethal activities from Jan. 6 through Jan. 31 on private property and public land. The below parks will be closed every day (including weekends) for all purposes from Jan. 8 – Jan. 31 from 3 p.m. to midnight.

  1. Arbor Hills Nature Area
  2. Barton Nature Area [Foster area north of Warrington Dr. only]
  3. Bird Hills Nature Area
  4. Foxfire West Nature Area
  5. Glazier Hill Nature Area
  6. Huron Parkway/Braun Nature Areas
  7. Leslie Park Golf Course
  8. Leslie Woods Nature Area
  9. Narrow Gauge Way Nature Area
  10. Oakridge Nature Area [East of Huron Parkway only]
  11. Oakwoods Nature Area
  12. Olson Park [The dog park and parking lot will remain open]
  13. South Pond Nature Area [Only the area in the vicinity of NAP office at 3875 E. Huron River Dr.]
  14. Stapp Nature Area
  15. Sugarbush Park [North of Rumsey Dr. only]
  16. Traver Creek Nature Area
  17. *Pending UM final authorization, Nichols Arboretum is expected to be closed on Jan. 9, 16, 19 and 23.

Jan. 8 through Jan. 31, several University of Michigan (pending final authorization) and Concordia properties will be closed every day from 3 p.m. to midnight (Refer to the 2018 Deer Management Map on the project webpage). 

Lethal Implementation Details

Sharpshooting will not occur from a moving vehicle, but may occur from a parked vehicle. Sharpshooting will occur by the city's contractor on city-selected, privately owned parcels subject to the owner's consent and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. Residents can continue with their normal daily routines since all deer management activities will occur on private property only. Unauthorized trespassing is not permitted and will be subject to enforcement action. 

Signage in multiple languages will be posted in closed parks, nature areas and University site entrances and notable access points at least 24 hours in advance of the three-week closure timeframe. Snow fencing will supplement signage at select locations. Residents living adjacent to designated parks or nature areas will be informed of closures directly via postcard to arrive the end of December. In addition, the city's communication office will utilize local media, social media, Community Television Network, the city's website and email notifications to inform citizens of park closures.

To view a map of the closed parks and sterilization zones, read frequently asked questions or sign up for deer management email notifications, visit For specific questions, please email [email protected] or call the deer hotline at (734) 794-6295.

Deer Management 2018 Program Objectives       

Educational Program & Public Right-of-Way Improvements:

  • Review the city's "Fencing" ordinance and existing deer signage locations. Recommend and implement changes and improvements.
  • Develop and publish an expanded deer education component to the City's deer management website, including a deer-resistant gardening campaign.
  • Develop an interactive information/mapping tool.
  • Create and hold a public forum designed to address questions related to the city's deer management program.
  • Establish an on-going education program.

Non-lethal (Sterilization) Program:

  • Obtain an amended permit from the MDNR for a deer sterilization program.
  • Sterilize at least 98 percent of the female deer in the original research areas 1 and 2. 
  • Sterilize at least 95 percent of the female deer in a new third zone, such that the cumulative sterilizations for all three zones are not more than 80.
  • Mortality rate associated with sterilization less than 2 percent.
  • Investigate with University of Michigan if there are appropriate locations for sterilization.
  • Obtain a written update on the scientific results to-date on the sterilization efforts.

Lethal Program:

  • Number of firearm related injuries associated with cull activities is 0.
  • Remove 250 deer.
  • Level of public park closures is acceptable to at least 75 percent of surveyed residents.
  • Coordinate with University of Michigan to increase the number of available locations for the deer management program.

# # # # #

Media Contact Information

Lisa Wondrash
Communications Director
[email protected]

Ann Arbor has 123,851 residents, spans 28.97 square miles and is frequently recognized as a foremost place to live, learn, work, thrive and visit. To keep up with City of Ann Arbor information, subscribe for email updates, and follow the city on Twitter and Facebook. The city's mission is to deliver exceptional services that sustain and enhance a vibrant, safe and diverse community.