The city of Ann Arbor announced Wednesday it would remove 10 parks from the 26 originally included in the city’s planned deer cull, which was set to begin Jan. 1. These parks will now be open during normal hours and will not be impacted by the cull.

For some of the other parks originally designated as locations for the deer cull, hours they will be closed have also been reduced. All 26 parks were initially slated to remain closed Monday through Friday from 4 p.m to 7 a.m. until March 1.

The parks selected to remain unaffected by the cull include: Arbor Hills Nature Area, Braun Nature Area, Dhu Varren Woods Nature Area, Foxfire South Nature Area, Foxfire West Nature Area, Narrow Gauge Nature Area, Oakridge Nature Area, Oakwoods Nature Area, Onder Nature Area and Traver Creek Nature Area.

The deer cull — initiated as a city-wide attempt to control the growing deer population by killing a portion of it — has generated significant controversy in past months, including both frequent protests and legal complaints. Protesters have alleged that the deer cull will create a public safety hazard and breaks state laws that forbid hunters from carrying silenced weapons. According to the city, the U.S. Department of Agriculture sharpshooters hired to carry out the cull will use silencers.

The city has consistently maintained that the program is safe and the best way to control the deer population. On Monday, a federal judge rejected a request for a temporary injunction against the cull, siding with the city.

City Councilmember Sabra Briere (D–Ward 1) said though as a member of council, she was not informed about the new decision prior to receiving the press release, she was glad to see it.

“Once it became clear that the 450 foot distance was important and that they would be following it, I really, strongly encouraged them to reconsider the plan that they had produced because, as I told them at the beginning of this process, those were small parks, and there were no easy opportunities to work in those parks without being too close to residential housing,” she said.

Briere said many of the park users are oblivious to the new information regarding the cull. Ultimately, she added, the risk is that someone will enter the park while it is closed for the cull.

“My fingers are crossed that we will do an excellent job of reviewing and searching and looking at every square foot of park space before any culling activity,” Briere said. “But that’s an expectation that I can’t enforce.”

Briere added she believes the pressure that the Ann Arbor community has placed on city government regarding the cull has resulted in many of the changes to the plan, and that those changes have been a beneficial and productive thing.

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