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City Announces 2017 Deer Management Program Details

Archived News Release: January 6, 2017 - ​In November, City Council approved the City of Ann Arbor's 2017 deer management program, which has three primary components:

  • Sterilization (non-lethal) Plan — pneumatically darting deer in two areas, temporarily removing and surgically sterilizing deer and returning deer to area where they were found.
  • Lethal Plan — sharpshooting and lethally removing up to 100 deer on public lands and a small number of large city-selected private parcels with appropriate consent.
  • Educational Program and Public Rights-of-Way Improvements — providing educational materials to the community in late spring 2017 on how to live with deer, evaluating the city's fencing ordinance and recommending improvements that can be made in the city's rights-of-way, such as signage.

Sterilization (Non-Lethal) Program

From Jan. 22 through Jan. 29, two areas in Wards 1 and 2 will have deer sterilization activities performed every day from 3 p.m. to 5 a.m. by a city 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. Refer to the 2017 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 are not). 

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 of Michigan land 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. Deer will be darted by highly experienced personnel who are specially trained to dart deer in an urban setting with precision and accuracy. Unlike firearms, pneumatic darting guns have limited range (30-40 feet).

Once darted, the 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 deer will be fitted with numbered ear tags, and one mature doe in each group will be radio-collared to facilitate future program efforts, track migration rates and patterns and assess survival rates.

White Buffalo is soliciting volunteers to work for them to assist in transporting deer to the surgical facility, returning them to a safe location close to the area where they were found and monitoring them until they have recovered from anesthesia. Interested volunteers may contact White Buffalo's Volunteer Coordinator Robert McGee via email at [email protected] or call 734.929.5911. Volunteers will be scheduled in shifts from Jan. 22 to Jan. 29 from 4 p.m. until 6 a.m. This is not a City volunteer program. White Buffalo is solely responsible for selection and supervision of its volunteers. 

The entire process, from initial darting to release, takes approximately one hour per deer. Residents living near the two designated areas will be informed of sterilization plans via a flier mailed from the city, which will arrive the week of Jan. 9 or view the deer sterilization flier on the project webpage

After Jan. 29, preliminary results of the sterilization activities will be shared publicly.

Lethal Program

The White Buffalo contract also includes sharpshooters lethally removing up to 100 deer in designated City of Ann Arbor parks and natural areas in Wards 1 and 2 after the sterilization program is completed. From Jan. 30 through Feb. 13, 2017, the below parks will be closed every day (including weekends) for all purposes from 3 p.m. to midnight.

  • Bird Hills Nature Area
  • Bluffs Nature Area
  • Cedar Bend Nature Area
  • Hilltop Nature Area
  • Huron Hills Golf Course
  • Huron Parkway Nature Area/Braun Nature Area
  • Island Park
  • Kuebler Langford Nature Area
  • Leslie Park Golf Course
  • Leslie Woods Nature Area

Jan. 30 through Feb. 2, the following University of Michigan properties will be closed every day from 3 p.m. to midnight (Refer to the 2017 Deer Management Map on the project webpage): 

  • Nichols Arboretum 
  • Acreage south of Glazier Way and east of Fuller Road
  • Acreage south of Hubbard and west of Huron Parkway

Implementation Details

Sharpshooting will not occur from a moving vehicle but may occur from a parked vehicle. Sharpshooting may occur by the city's contractor on city-selected, large privately owned parcels subject to the owner's consent and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

Signage in multiple languages will be posted at the designated parks and nature area entrances and other access points to notify visitors 24 hours in advance of closures. Residents living adjacent to designated parks or nature areas will be informed of closures directly via postcard to arrive the week of Jan. 9. 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 nonlethal sterilization areas 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 Program Goals

            The overall programs are being implemented as part of an initial four-year effort. While each method (lethal and non-lethal) has measures of success, the overall program's measures are:

  • Number of firearm-related injuries associated with the deer management program: 0
  • Number of deer in Ann Arbor with chronic wasting disease: 0
  • Total number of deer/vehicle crashes and percent of vehicle crashes involving deer reported in the legal boundaries of the city of Ann Arbor does not increase. 
  • MDNR permit approval.
  • Establish a baseline for measuring the vegetative impact of deer in the city's natural areas and establish ecological goal. 
  • Implement an education program that increases the community awareness of the role of deer in the local ecology and offers residents options to manage potential deer impacts on their private property.
  • Community acceptance of herd impact — when 75 percent of surveyed residents in a Ward respond that damage to their landscape or garden plants is at an acceptable level on private lands. Recognizing there will be variability of this measure over time, a trend toward 75 percent is desired.  
  • Community acceptance of deer management program — when 75 percent of surveyed residents in a Ward respond that the city's strategy of managing the deer population is acceptable. Recognizing there will be variability of this measure over time, a trend toward 75 percent is desired.
  • Investigate where deer signage is appropriate and implement where possible.

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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.