An hour before Monday’s City Council Meeting, Ann Arbor residents and activists who oppose a planned deer cull protested in front of City Hall before marching down Main Street.
The Ann Arbor City Council voted in September to implement a cull of 100 deer to control the city's deer population, leading to significant controversy. The cull is set to begin January 2016 across 100 Ward 1 and Ward 2 parks.
Monday’s protest, which drew over 30 individuals, was held by the Friends of Ann Arbor Wildlife in Nature. The group has been protesting the cull since November.
Ann Arbor resident Kathleen Amaru Titus, who attended the protest, said she has been working with the Humane Society as well as FAAWN on the issue of the deer cull.
“We felt there ought to be a vote. A lot of people don’t know about the deer cull,” Titus said.
Titus said the Humane Society had not been consulted on the issue, despite being experts in non-lethal methods of population control such as sterilization.
In addition to protesting cull, members of FAAWN also noted strong opposition to the planned closing of the city parks. During the cull, 26 parks were originally scheduled to close for a period of three months.
A resolution to address that issue, co-sponsored by Councilmembers Chip Smith (D-Ward 5) and Sabra Briere (D-Ward 1) was approved 7-3 at Monday’s City Council meeting. The resolution will keep the Border-to-Border Trail open during the cull as well as Olson Park and the Argo and Bandemer nature areas.
Briere said during the meeting that though she appreciates the need to be cautious, she hadn’t imagined the cull would require closing all of the parks.
“The impact of this is far greater than I imagined — I imagined we’d close one park for a week and move on to the next,” Briere said. “That never occurred to me because that was never part of the discourse.”
Larry Collins, fire chief and interim community services administrator, was charged with organizing the logistics of the cull. In an interview Monday before the vote, he said for the cull to be effective the city cannot cater exclusively to the community’s wants.
“We gotta move as the herd moves,” Collins said. “We can’t just say let’s hit this park, then this park.”
He added that while his office tried to keep as many parks open as possible, closing the parks is the most effective method of controlling deer movement and protecting citizens.
“It is so tough to predict, and it is part of the dilemma — I gotta tell you, the time issue is a really big thing for me,” Collins said. “If we could do it in 30 to 60 days that would be our preference. I couldn’t tell you those particular parks could make it any better or worse.”