With the Ann Arbor deer cull officially underway, Ann Arbor residents remain divided in terms of their support for the cull.
Protesters picketed outside of the City Council chambers before the City Council meeting Monday, holding signs and chanting, “What do we want? Stop the shoot! When do we want it? Now!”
During the meeting, protesters circulated images of dead deer with flesh hanging from their bodies to those in attendance. These protests have been frequent occurrences over the past months.
For the cull, the city aims to kill 100 deer in city parks by March to combat concerns about a growing deer population in and around the city. The meat from the deer will be used by local food banks. To date, 26 deer have been removed and processed for the foodbank, according to Interim City Administrator Tom Crawford.
During public commentary at Monday’s meeting, many Ann Arbor residents touched on the deer cull.
Hope Carroll, a lifelong resident of Ann Arbor, accused City Council members of being proud killers, who view the cull as representative of democracy and action.
“Do you view your appalling action as a victory?” she asked. “Do you brag about it? Will you celebrate when you get to 100? This is a city divided, angry, in shock and grieving. How will we bring the city back together? Is there a line item in your deer management budget for that?”
Several commentators noted in particular a recent incident in which a dead deer was found in a public area. On Tuesday morning, an Ann Arbor resident found a dead doe and her unborn fetus, still in its embryonic sac, in Leslie Park Golf Course, one of 114 public areas in the city in which the deer cull is being carried out.
This resident filed a complaint with the Humane Society of Huron Valley, according to the HSHV. Tanya Hilgendorf, HSHV CEO and president, said the situation was unprecedented and unheard of.
“In my 11 years here, I’ve not heard of a single report of a half-eaten deer in the middle of an open area in a public park or golf course, and people talk with us about everything animal related,” Hilgendorf said.
A full diagnostic autopsy with input from a veterinarian and a consultation from a wildlife pathologist was performed on both of the dead deer. A bullet was not found, but the examiners discovered a hole on the half-eaten carcass of the doe that they believed to have been a bullet hole according to HSHV.
HSHV said the city did not return their initial call after they enquired as to whether or not this kill was related to the cull. After further questioning about the cruelty complaint, the city claimed to have investigated the incident and reported that the death of the deer and her fetus was not a result of illegal hunting or the ongoing cull in Ann Arbor.
“This just adds to the concerns about lack of government transparency and accountability,” Hilgendorf said. “The contractors for this cull, the (U.S. Department of Agriculture) Wildlife Services, have committed animal cruelty in other states. There should be monitoring and more done to acknowledge and address concerns.”
Ann Arbor resident Paula Uche told Council that this is the first time in 27 years living in Ann Arbor that she’s been totally unnerved, citing the picture of the fetus and dead doe. Such images, she added, are rampant and now permanently ingrained in the minds of all Ann Arbor residents.
In response, City Councilmember Jane Lumm (I–Ward 2) refuted claims that poachers have been hired for the cull and were responsible for the dead doe found Tuesday.
“It has been stated that finding dead deer in people’s lawns is a new phenomenon,” she said. “I can assure you, I’ve been a council member for years, that is not new. There was a statement that we invited poachers to Ann Arbor, but obviously that’s preposterous.”