| 2 min read | by Doug Marrin |

Is Ann Arbor going to keep shooting deer, or not?

The City of Ann Arbor recently received the results of a survey conducted by Michigan State University to assess the city’s deer management program. The program has gained attention in the past couple of years for its lethal culling of deer in the city limits, i.e. city parks.

The program was enacted to reduce the deer population in order to prevent over grazing, property destruction, and deer-vehicle crashes. To cull the deer, the targeted park is closed, hunters show up with rifles equipped with silencers and the killing begins. Opponents of the slaughter promote the sterilization of deer, which has been done but lack of funds, facilities, and manpower have hindered its progress.

The survey was conducted from February 20 to May 25, 2019 with a total of 1,454 households in the city’s 5 wards responding to the survey which represents about 2% of the 59,543 households in Ann Arbor’s city limits.

Here’s what the people had to say:

Re: deer population in general

Respondents expressed widely varied sentiments toward the deer population in general. Approximately 29 percent of respondents city-wide said they felt “Mostly positive” toward the deer population, compared to 19 percent who answered “Mostly negative” and 31 percent who answered, “Both positive and negative.”

Between 16 and 28 percent of 3+ year residents in each ward estimated that the deer population in their neighborhood had increased over the previous 3 years, while 26 to 56 percent said it had stayed the same. For the first time, over 20 percent of respondents citywide indicated that the deer population in their neighborhood had decreased in the last three years.

Nearly half (44 to 45 percent) of all 3+ year residents city-wide indicated that deer / vehicle accidents, damage from over-browsing, and an increase in the deer population have been a “serious problem” over the last 3 years, one-fourth or fewer (25 percent or less) said any of these were “not at all a problem.”

The most deer damage prevention measures home owners most commonly reported having used were deer-resistant plants (284 respondents), odor or taste repellants (266 respondents) and fencing (176 respondents), while the measures rated as most effective by those who used them were fencing (30 percent “Highly Effective”) and deer-resistant plants (17 percent “Highly Effective”).

Re: deer management program in general

Respondents reported a generally high level of awareness about the Deer Management Program. Between 40 and 54 percent of respondents said they considered themselves “Very Aware” while another 37 to 52 percent rated themselves as “Somewhat Aware.”

Two (2) out of five (5) wards exceeded the target of 75 percent acceptance of the Deer Management Program overall, though the acceptance rate was at least 70 percent and statistically indistinguishable (considering the margin of error) from 75 percent in four (4) out of five (5) wards. The exception was that in Ward 5, the acceptance rate was significantly higher than 75 percent.

Among those who disapproved of the plan overall, the lethal culling component was by far the least supported aspect. Just 16 percent of those who opposed the plan overall said they considered the lethal component acceptable.

The purpose of this survey was to help the City of Ann Arbor evaluate its 2019 Deer Management Program (a multi-faceted strategy adopted and implemented by the city in order to help control the deer population in the area and prevent a variety of perceived problems caused by overpopulation) and help inform future policymaking decisions pertaining to deer living near Ann Arbor.