October 29, 2015 - On August 17, 2015, City Council approved the establishment of a deer management program for the next four years, including culls on City of Ann Arbor property beginning in the winter of 2016. The City Council-approved deer management program goal is to decrease the deer population in Ann Arbor in order to reduce deer-human negative interactions and support biological diversity in natural areas.
On Thursday, November 5, City Council will consider two resolutions for implementation of the deer management plan.
1. Resolution to Impose a Temporary Moratorium on Enforcement of the Prohibition Regarding the Possession and Discharge of Weapons in Public Places. Passage of this resolution would suspend the restriction in City Code Chapter 115, Weapons and Explosives, thereby allowing the City, by and through its proposed agent, the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services USDA-APHIS, to conduct a cull on City properties in the winter of 2016.
2. Resolution Authorizing Cooperative Service Agreement Between the City of Ann Arbor and the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services (USDA-APHIS) in the amount of $35,000.
City Council will be holding a public hearing to receive comment regarding the Temporary Moratorium resolution. The public hearing will be at the November 5 City Council meeting and speakers do not need to sign up in advance.
The USDA-APHIS is recommended for the initial culling program year.
Exceptional safety standards: USDA-APHIS has trained sharpshooters on staff, who also serve as instructors to train others. In fact, a number of organizations model their culling safety program on USDA-APHIS's safety program, such as the Federal Aviation Administration. They are an extremely professional and safe organization with the latest technologies available for carrying out a safe and effective cull, such as night-vision and thermal-imaging scopes.
Experience: The USDA-APHIS is experienced in performing safe culls in urban environments. They currently are performing culls in Meridian Township under contract with Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) to reduce the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease. USDA-APHIS staff have performed culls in several Michigan communities, including Big Rapids, Mount Pleasant, Grand Haven, Manistee, and Barton Hills. They also assisted the Huron Clinton Metro Parks in culling in their first year.
Cost effective: As a governmental agency, their financial goals are not to make a profit, but simply to cover their costs. They are also self-insured. All USDA-APHIS sharpshooters are USDA-APHIS employees, and most are biologists or specialists and are given rigorous special safety and training on conducting the culls.
Experienced: USDA-APHIS is experienced in developing work plans that will meet Ann Arbor's deer management program needs. In addition, these work plans must comply with National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act and other applicable federal statutes. The USDA-APHIS will provide the City with an after-action report and any other information requested or required by the MDNR as part of the issued permit. This information will allow the City to better estimate the conditions and necessary budget for future culls if private sharpshooters are used in successive years.
If the resolution is approved, USDA and city staff will work together in the coming months to identify potential cull sites. The following criteria will be considered:
Size and shape of the city-owned property
Surrounding land-use and housing density
Proximity to neighbors
Ease of access
Attractiveness of the location for deer
The approved deer management program utilizes both lethal and nonlethal deer management methods and includes:
Obtaining a special MDNR permit to hire the USDA-APHIS to cull and remove up to 100 deer on City of Ann Arbor property located in Wards 1 and 2.
The MDNR special permit requires the deer to be processed and the venison donated to a local food bank.
Culls would be conducted during the winter of 2016 at night with suppressed firearms on City of Ann Arbor property only and public access would be restricted during cull operations.
The deer cull would be performed by highly experienced USDA sharpshooters who are specially trained to conduct culls in urban settings with precision, accuracy and safety as top priorities.
Per Council direction, city staff will continue to explore a deer fertility control program via the Humane Society of the United States. The exploration of such a program is expected to take up to a year or longer.
The Deer Management Program:
Will not include culling more than 100 deer during the winter of 2016.
Will not include culling deer on private property.
Will not include allowing the discharge of firearms by hunters, residents or visitors at any time within city limits.
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