U-M biologist describes support for Ann Arbor deer cull


A University of Michigan evolutionary biologist says he and many of his U-M colleagues support the city of Ann Arbor’s plans to kill up to 100 deer this winter, calling the cull “a positive step toward ecological sustainability.”

Christopher Dick, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and director of the E.S. George Reserve, explains his position on the proposed deer cull in a guest commentary in Bridge Magazine, which is published by The Center for Michigan.

According to the city of Ann Arbor’s website, the goal of the deer-management program is to decrease the city’s deer population “in order to reduce deer-human negative interactions and support biological diversity in natural areas.”

For evidence that deer culls help restore ecological balance and biodiversity, people need to look no further than U-M’s 1,300-acre E.S. George Reserve near Pinckney, according to Dick.

In 1928, four does and two bucks were released there, and the population rose from six deer to more than 160 deer in six years. Browsing by deer damaged trees and shrubs and suppressed plant succession, Dick wrote.

Since 1942, E.S. George Reserve stewards have periodically culled the deer herd, leading to a steady recovery of oak, hickory, maple and other native plant species, according to Dick.

“The Ann Arbor deer cull may not reverse decades of ecological degradation or prevent all diseases,” he wrote. “But with around 150 tons of buds, leaves and flowers that will be spared this year alone, it is a positive step toward ecological sustainability.”

Dick said he discussed the urban deer issue with other U-M biologists, including ecologists, botanists, zoologists, restoration ecologists and landscape architects.

“We are all in support of the city council’s decision to conduct a cull,” he wrote.

In the past century, whitetail deer numbers have swelled to historic highs across much of North America, threatening ecosystems.

A single whitetail deer eats roughly 3,000 pounds of plant material each year. Herds remove swaths of forest wildflowers and damage the woody understory, according to Dick. This affects native butterflies, bees, small mammals, amphibians and some birds.

Whitetails alter forest composition by browsing oak and other hardwood seedlings. Their food preferences allow unpalatable species to proliferate, including invasive garlic mustard and Japanese barberry, which inhibit the next generation of forest trees and native wildflowers.

Deer occur in even higher abundance in urban settings, Dick wrote. City parks and suburban gardens are rich in their preferred foods, and the deer are safe from hunting and natural predators there.

U-M botanists have long noted declines in native plants that deer favor, Dick said. In a 2015 study, an ecological team surveyed browsing impacts in Ann Arbor’s Bird Hills Nature Area and found browsing damage in 80 percent of the tree saplings, according to Dick.

“From ecological and conservation perspectives, an ideal deer herd will coexist with a full range of native species,” he wrote. “By several measures, Ann Arbor’s herd size has surpassed this threshold.”

Apart from its ecological value, deer culling is an important tool for combatting emergent diseases such as chronic wasting disease and Lyme disease, according to Dick, who is also director of the U-M herbarium.



  1. Nicholas Collinsworth
    on January 15, 2016 at 4:38 am

    Ridiculous.. Ann Arbor is surrounded by farm land. The deer will keep coming.

  2. Christopher Dick
    on January 15, 2016 at 6:53 am

    Nicholas Collinsworth writes “Ann Arbor is surrounded by farm land. The deer will keep coming.” In fact, we also know from radio-tracking studies at the ES George Reserve and elsewhere that female deer have extremely limited dispersal ranges. The bucks may regularly disperse between Ann Arbor and rural boundaries, but the does likely will not. Groups of does targeted during the cull will not be replaced quickly, and the does are the sex that determines the local population growth rate.

    Here is a recommended reading from a local writer on this topic:

    • Carolyn Austin
      on February 1, 2016 at 7:22 am

      This recommended reading clearly shows an association with WCEB.

  3. David Potter
    on January 15, 2016 at 7:50 am

    What do the deer eat when they can’t get the indigenous wildflowers? Do they develop a taste for garlic mustard? I rather like the deer who come through my yard, and I do not like the threat posed by people firing high powered rifles in my vicinity.

    • Ekaterini Karagiannis
      on January 15, 2016 at 8:39 am

      There must be a better way! I agree with David Potter.

  4. Brendan Casey
    on January 15, 2016 at 8:31 am

    Mr. Dick is reflecting poorly on the University’s reputation. It’s clear his personal bias is affecting his outlook to the point that he is making pronouncements outside his field of study sans the bare minimum of science required to support his conclusions

    • Michelle Barnett
      on January 15, 2016 at 8:44 am

      I agree.. 100% – This is bizarre.

    • Christopher Dick
      on January 15, 2016 at 8:45 am

      Mr. Casey, the article I wrote reflects a consensus view of ecologists, botanists, zoologists, restoration ecologists and landscape architects with whom I have discussed the issue. These are faculty members from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the School of Literature, Arts and Sciences and the School of Natural Resources. A lack of scientific credentials has not prevented those against the cull from expressing their viewpoints or attacking the credentials of those who do have relevant specialized knowledge.

      • louis daher
        on January 15, 2016 at 9:26 am

        Professor Dick I respect your willingness to speak up so publicly and clearly about this local emotionally charged topic issue.

        In particular I appreciate you pointing out that this is a consensus view of subject matter experts. It’s also appears to be the consensus view when googling general articles or when I have browsed research articles. It also seems to reflect what is happening across a wide range of communities.

        I find it ironically that the response to this topic mirrors the response to climate change and those who feel strongly about it try to deny their is an effect or attack those who speak out about the need to manage the impact that deer grazing can have on the local ecologies.

        • Christopher Dick
          on January 17, 2016 at 11:28 am

          Dear Louis, thank you for sharing your observation.

          I agree that the bullying of researchers by some animal rights activists in our community is unusual in a town that embraces and respects academic research. 

          On our neighborhood forum I noticed a steady stream of misinformation on the deer issue stemming largely from Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV) supporters. I later learned that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was the likely source of these talking points. The misinformation compelled me to provide my perspective on our neighborhood discussion group.

          I then found myself the target of a campaign by HSHV to personally discredit me. The marketing director of HSHV monitored my Facebook page (the one with my family photos) and took a screen shot of a conversation with friends (out of context, about ecological impacts of feral cats). She circulated it to a local media personality, who forwarded it to a community council member. The media person indicated I was a member of the group WC4EB, which the HSHV has attempted to discredit because of its support for the cull. I was not even aware of the acronym at the time and thought it was a radio station. Someone kindly forwarded me the email thread to provide a heads up.

          I am sticking my neck out because there is scientific consensus on many of the points I’ve raised, not just among my UM colleagues but also in the peer-review literature.

          These deer management debates are nothing new. They appear in communities across the eastern U.S.. Jim Sterba has written about how these often play out in his book “Nature Wars”, which is accessible to a lay audience.

          Last year Sterba was quoted about the deer management conflicts at Mt Lebanon PA. Reading the newspaper article you will see similarities to the situation in Ann Arbor.


        • Jaime Magiera
          on January 19, 2016 at 5:35 am

          There are some flaws in the comparison of opposition to the deer cull and climate change denial. In terms of climate research, one can open a book or journal to find multiple research studies containing time-series data in a specific environment. We do not have time series data collected for deer or plants in the specific environment of Ann Arbor. In terms of remedies, the proposed solution to climate change is the modification of human behavior. To the contrary, a deer cull is not modifying human behavior. It’s attempting to shoot our way out of a problem which we ourselves have created.

        • Carolyn Austin
          on February 1, 2016 at 7:16 am

          I’m sure if we did a scientific look at humans effect onthe environment, it will exceed the “theshold” (which is never defined) by “any measure” (which is never defined). Where is the science here? There are other other views of nature besides a strict academic one. Perhaps this view should be culled in favor of other ones to allow a diversity of opinions to restore balance to your thinking.

      • Brendan Casey
        on January 15, 2016 at 2:32 pm

        That may all be well and good, but before we go into the wide range of concerned scientists, lets stay on topic. Considering the scientific method, before we hear your hypothesis or conclusions, I’d like to hear about your observations, specifically the observations of the deer population over time in the Ann Arbor area. I’m sure you’re familiar with the statistical techniques required to quantify the population and any uncertainty in that number, and given enough data points determine if the population is in fact declining or increasing, and if so what is the rate of that change. I respectfully await your analysis in that regard. Now about your colleagues, perhaps they can speak for themselves and put their reputations on the line as well. Please forgive me if I don’t just take your word for it.

    • Margaret Leary
      on January 15, 2016 at 5:34 pm

      Mr. Dick is using his expertise to help the community, which is a wonderful reflection on the university. His opinion is based on his experience of many years managing the deer population at the U of M George Reserve. He has both MA and PhD degrees from Harvard in Evolutionary BIology. Not only is he commenting on his field of study, he is commenting based on years of professional experience with white tailed deer. And he checked with many others, who all agreed with him, also based on professional expertise.

  5. Merle Rosenzweig
    on January 15, 2016 at 9:16 am

    If it is really necessary to reduce the deer population an alternative solution should be used. I believe that is what should have and should be considered.

    • Scott Martin
      on January 15, 2016 at 10:05 am

      I can’t think what other remedy would be both effective and less controversial. Sterilizing a subset of the doe population would be much more resource-intensive, and would at best slow population growth in future years, without doing anything to reduce deer overpopulation in the present. A catch-transport-release strategy, as one would do with small mammal pests like woodchucks, just displaces the problem to another jurisdiction, assuming that it’s even feasible with a large number of large mammals (you’d have to tranquilize the deer rather than catching them in live traps, for one thing, which gets us right back to people with rifles). I can’t see the citizens of Ann Arbor approving the importation of substantial numbers of predators into the city limits in order to reduce numbers more “naturally.” Have any other municipalities successfully reduced deer populations *without* conducting a cull?

    • Margaret Leary
      on January 15, 2016 at 5:38 pm

      The city studied the matter for a year, read many scientific studies, held three public meetings, and voted 8-1 to do a cull, and 10-1 to suspend the firearms ordinance and to hire USDA sharpshooters. The one negative vote was Mayor Taylor, who, as he cast his last negative vote, commented that acknowledged there was no other legal and effective way to handle overabundant deer. He voted against the cull not because there was an alternative, but only because “using guns in our parks is too divisive.”

  6. Lee Smith Bravender
    on January 15, 2016 at 10:02 am

    Thank you, Dr Dick, for promoting science and evidence-based decision making. Ecology is very complex and I appreciate your nuanced, but clear description of the interplay of a suppressed native plant population — a direct result of over-population of deer — on other mammal, insect, amphibian, and bird populations. Having recently moved to Ann Arbor, I have been rather surprised to see so many invasive plant species growing robustly, and with little competition from native tree species, in Ann Arbor’s ‘natural areas.’ Observation of these areas’ plant profiles provide strong clues of the ecological repercussions of very dense deer populations.

  7. Tom Cichonski
    on January 15, 2016 at 10:06 am

    I’m a nonhunting, vegetarian nonbiologist, but I strongly share the concerns of Dr. Dick and his colleagues. Large numbers of deer regularly romp through my yard and small woodlot between Dexter and Chelsea, ravaging everything in sight, from vegetables to hostas to young fruit trees. Everything I try to grow (including plants such as native milkweed for the monarchs) must be enclosed by 5-6’ high wire fencing. Native species have little chance in unprotected areas. Deer populations have thrived in the fragmented landscapes we humans have created, to the detriment of biological diversity. Dr. Dick’s views do NOT reflect “poorly on the University’s reputation” or reflect “personal bias.” To argue against the cull because one “likes” the deer is hardly being objective or scientific. Finally, if the population is not controlled humanely, the deer will almost inevitably endure horrible deaths on I-94, M-14, and US-23.

  8. Jennifer Robertson
    on January 15, 2016 at 10:24 am

    Christopher Dick is but one scientist in a field, evolutionary biology, open to many interpretations based on how a particular research project is defined, and parameters and variables selected. For every colleague who supports his reading of collected evidence, there will be others who will have a reading of the same and/or additional evidence and variables.

    The fact remains that this is another ex post facto attempt by supporters of AA City Council’s decision to choose killing as a FIRST resort to a perceived problem. When the Human Society of the United States advocated non-lethal methods–contraception is a growing field with new advances as suburban non-human animal management emerges as an pressing issue in the face of habitat loss from development–that esteemed organization was demonized by the Council. The main group supporting the lethal cull, WC4EB (Washtenaw Citizens for Ecological Balance) includes four members of the Council. The group was even invited by the Council to submit a “report” on the deer situation in April 2015 (which can be read on their website). Moreover, the WC4EB website itself is a litany of cherry-picked articles accusing deer (and deer alone) of every conceivable form of destruction and disease.

    Curiously, the the Council never commissioned a comprehensive “scientific” survey of the deer population in Ann Arbor before implementing the kill order. Especially disturbing, is that the group, APHIS (a USDA “sharpshooter” team) recruited by the City to undertake the killing at public parks has a very checkered record, to put it mildly. Until successfully challenged by concerned residents living near the targeted parks, the Council even suspended existing laws forbidding the discharge of firearms closer than 450 feet to homes and schools.

    Readers of the Record interested in learning the fuller story behind the Council’s decision to kill an arbitrary 100 deer in public parks, should access the following websites: http://www.stoptheshoot.org/; http://www.hshv.org/site/PageNavigator/education/Deer_Management.html; http://www.savethedeer.info/; and http://www.faawn.org/

    • Cathy Antonakos
      on January 15, 2016 at 11:09 am

      Thank you, Jennifer, I absolutely agree that different scientists will interpret information in different ways. Citizens in Ann Arbor are asserting their perceived right to be heard as members of this community. Council needs to listen. I can’t recall another issue in over 30 years that has created this much conflict within the community.

    • Margaret Leary
      on January 15, 2016 at 9:58 pm

      I suggest readers remember that the above three websites were created by people opposed to the cull, who deny there are too many deer, and who have no alternative that they can describe beyond saying “there is a better way.”
      I suggest three alternative sources: The most comprehensive study of management of white tailed deer in urban/suburban environments is the Dec. 2014 report from Cornell University. It concluded that lethal methods were the only ones that were effective. It happens that none of the alternatives (4 types of sterilization) are legal in Michigan. http://wildlifecontrol.info/deer/Documents/IDRM_12-5-2014.pdf
      Second, read the report by Washtenaw Citizens for Ecological Balance, WC4EB.https://www.wc4eb.org/who/community-%C2%AD%E2%80%90-endorsed-deermanagement-plan/
      Third, look at material on the city’s website documenting the thoroughness of the process; it was not predetermined. http://www.a2gov.org/departments/community-services/Pages/Deer-Management-Project-.aspx

      • Bernard Blue
        on January 19, 2016 at 6:12 pm

        I suggest readers look into how many deer there are. The city counted 168 – maybe that’s right, maybe not. This article talks about science. Science means measurement. So before we insist there are too many deer or not enough, we should know. Readers should also remember most cities are NOT culling.

        • Carolyn Austin
          on February 1, 2016 at 7:38 am

          I have yet to see a study of the deer problem in terms of specific areas affected, what species, and the rate of change over time. The problem has never been defined, and the only studies done to accurately measure the number of deer have been dismissed by the WCEB as being not accurate based on conversations with their “neighbors.” This would be laughable if not for the brutalizing effect of the deer slaughter on this community.

  9. Nanct Wilkerson
    on January 15, 2016 at 10:29 am

    I have yet to understand the mentality of people that live in the country, (especially those that move from the city) and complain about the deer in THEIR native habitat. The deer are going to eat your garden, flowers and plants, it’s what they do! There are two choices-fence up your garden or move back to the city where you have a say in how the deer population is handled in YOUR natural habitat.

    What happened to the project that was being looked into regarding adding deer birth control to corn feed piles?

    • Vivienne Armentrout
      on January 17, 2016 at 12:52 pm

      I have seen this fantasy of “deer birth control to corn feed piles” elsewhere. No such easy solution exists. There is no such pharmaceutical. (And corn is actually unhealthful to deer – their digestive systems are not adapted to it, though they like to eat it.)

      Not even the Humane Society of the United States claims that this is possible. HSUS has been conducting a number of studies of contraceptives and presented the results to the Ann Arbor City Council in July, 2015. Here is their presentation. http://www.a2gov.org/departments/community-services/PublishingImages/Pages/Deer-Management-Project-/HumaneSocietyUSCouncilPresentation07132015.pdf

      The only two methods of deer birth control are: immunocontraceptive delivered by injection, on repeated years (used by HSUS); and surgical sterilization (most often performed by White Buffalo, Inc. http://www.whitebuffaloinc.org/, who have developed and used it extensively). Both of these require shooting the doe with an anesthetic dart, taking the deer to an indoor facility and either injecting it or cutting it open to remove the ovaries, and then releasing it. This is traumatic to the doe and there is a certain percentage of mortality.

      What we have here is an “inconvenient truth”. We all admire the beauty of deer, but scientists understand that they thrive best, as does the rest of the ecosystem, when their population is kept in check. Dr. Dick has explained this well. But just as with climate change deniers, the response is to attempt to impugn his credentials and his science, to suggest that his viewpoint is not a scientific consensus, and even to attack him personally. I hope that most readers will follow the science, not the denials.

      • Carolyn Austin
        on February 1, 2016 at 7:42 am

        How are sales of your book about Michigan wildflowers going? Have you seen a pickup in sales yet?

  10. Eleni Gourgou
    on January 15, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    Thank you all for the discussion.
    I have a few questions for Prof. Dick, whose contribution to the public discussion is so decisive and well appreciated, so that I can understand better his arguments.
    1. When you say “consensus”, do you mean that you asked everybody in your department and everybody agreed with you after discussing the issue? How can we be convinced about this “consensus”?
    2. What about the opinions of other scientists, outside UoM?
    5. Has there been any scientific study about the dangers of this overgrowth to humans, pets, or other living things, besides wild species?
    6. Has it been verified or assumed scientifically that the overpopulation of deer is a consequence of human interference (besides the initial release, as I think that deer is a naturally living species in Michigan anyways)? (something that could justify the human interference to reverse this effect). If this is a matter “of the last century”, as I read in the article, then why not let nature take its course? Is human the policeman or keeper of other species? Could this be a homocentric perception of what is balance and how biodiversity should be conserved?
    7. These plant species that are browsed by the deer, are they really in danger? The study you cite highlights the necessity for further monitoring before deciding on any action. They also reposrt that all these damage (browsing and twig breakage COULD potentially result in low forest regeneration and impacts on insects etc.)
    8. The study you cite also mentions that deer could control some invasive species from over population. How is this study enough to support a cull???

    I am sorry if you have already answered some of the above and I have missed that. I really value your scientific contribution to this–I would just like to point out that, as a human being and as a citizen, you have also your personal opinion, which may affect/interact the very opinion you express in this article.

    Thank you.

  11. Todd Austin
    on January 15, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    Professor, your piece would seem to argue specifically for the value of controlling the deer herd and not in favor of any particular tool for achieving that control. While direct killing of the animals using rifles is the tool planned in the given instance, nothing in your writing suggests that it is the best tool for this work.

    Would it be possible to achieve a similar result through other non-lethal means, such as preventing pregnancies among the does using pharmaceuticals left out in food? Such an approach would satisfy the need for herd size control and address the concerns of the residents, who are not eager to have deer hunting going on in their community.

    • Eleni Gourgou
      on January 15, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      Actually this is a very good point; much of the reaction is triggered by adopting killing as a solution.

  12. Stefanos Skiadas
    on January 15, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    Prof. Dick

    You write in your article:

    “Ann Arbor’s high deer abundance is part of a much broader phenomenon. In the past 100 years whitetail deer numbers have swelled to historic highs across their range. Deer overabundance poses a threat to many North American ecosystems.”

    Why is a maple tree more valuable than a deer?
    Who are we to make that judgement?
    Why is one equilibrium better than another and who made us the policemen of nature in the first place?

    What is the broader issue you are alluding to in the quote above?
    Can it be the killing of the natural predators of deer by humans so that the sport of hunting can be more profitable?
    Why not address the real problem instead of the consequence?
    Why are YOU not addressing or speaking out on that issue as a scientist?

    We as a society have a very bad track record in fixing things in nature at least the last 200 years. Is this another attempt at us fixing what we actually destroyed in the first place?
    Why is it going to work this time?

  13. Aaron Iverson
    on January 18, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    I appreciate that Dr. Dick has taken the time and energy to be an active and engaged citizen in the Ann Arbor community, and even more given his expertise. In no way do his comments suggest that he is valuing plants more than deer, or that he purports to ‘fix’ nature.

    Independent of the manner of doing so (sterilize vs. cull, etc.), managing a deer herd’s size is beneficial for both the deer (avoiding increased disease and starvation risk) and the ecosystems (for reasons stated above). For humans, although we all appreciate seeing wildlife around us, the number of lives and resources lost through deer-vehicle accidents is alarming. The damage caused by deer to farmers and gardeners is significant (ask any vendor at the farmer’s market how much they spend on fencing or much produce they think they lose due to deer).

    If we want to talk about being ‘natural’, as in mirroring what would happen in ecosystems that are relatively unaffected by humans, then the most natural course of action would be to limit the deer herd size (as would predators). It is unrealistic to release predators into the city limits (although coyote populations are growing). Replacing the role of predators through culling is financially responsible and the meat can hopefully be used by the community. Is there any meat that is more sustainable than this? In terms of being humane, sterilization or contraceptives are still traumatic, and undoubtedly culling is less traumatic than being consumed by predators or dying of disease (nature is not humane).

    Thank you.

  14. Bernard Blue
    on January 18, 2016 at 9:40 pm

    “By several measures, Ann Arbor’s herd size has surpassed this threshold.” What is the herd size? According to the City of Ann Arbor’s Deer Management web page – http://www.a2gov.org/deermangement – they’ve counted 168 deer in the entire city last year. That’s a small herd. Even if you double it, still small herd. Triple it, small.

    As the director of an herbarium, Dr. Dick understandably loves plants. He’s obviously much better at counting plants than counting animals.

  15. Jaime Magiera
    on January 19, 2016 at 12:24 am

    The thoughts in the opinion piece are not new of course. Chris Dick spoke at the behest of Ann Arbor Council Member Jane Lumm during the public hearings on the topic. I’ve commented on those thoughts a couple times over the past few months in various venues. A distillation of those comments is as follows:

    In terms of population and environmental data, there are some problems with what has been collected, or not collected as the case may be. The local environmental data brought forth so far is one small study of foliage in Bird Hills park at a single point in time. We do not have research over time of the foliage throughout the city. Council Member Sabra Briere had to actually request that such data be collected moving forward as an amendment to the resolution on the cull. The methods used to determine the local deer population have not been very concise, nor have they been collected for a significant period of time (two helicopter fly-overs between February and March of 2015). We had a very harsh Winter recently, and several other significant environmental events, which have likely impacted density. It is claimed by some that deer population can be gauged by damage to foliage. As mentioned above, we don’t have much of that data either.  

    There has not been a significant increase in the number of local deer/automobile collisions. The numbers for years 2009-2014 in Ann Arbor are as follows: 44, 54, 42, 45, 50, 51. In 2014, deer/automobile collisions were only 1.33% of the total automobile accidents in Ann Arbor. In terms of disease, Washtenaw County is not even in the MDHHS “Potential Risk” area for Lyme Disease. The first known case of Lyme Disease in Michigan appeared in 1985 and it has been identified in about 1/3 of the state thirty years later (the western third). While useful as a starting point in the discussion, those numbers don’t provide details about the spread of the disease over time. Was the spread linear over those thirty years? Has the growth slowed down? Has it receded at any point? Are there are indicators of environmental or other types of boundaries that have caused it to slow or recede at any point? Has it sped up? For simplicity’s sake, let’s run with linear growth over those thirty years. Washtenaw County borders the eastern third of the state. If the growth is linear, that would mean we have another thirty years before we’re at par with the western third of the state. That gives us time to address the spread of Lyme Disease by addressing the passing of the carrier tick on all animals (e.g. the larvae are passed on birds and rabbits), not just killing the adult tick hosts. Overall, there is time to determine the best solutions which address the concerns of residents while at the same time upholding the values of our community.

    If we want to mitigate deer/automobile collisions, we could be looking towards improving our infrastructure. The paper Effects of Wildlife Warning Reflectors (‘Deer Delineators’) on Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions in Central Wyoming, released by the Teton Research Institute in May of 2015, points to some possibilities. The research involved the use of reflective materials along roads. When headlights hit the reflective material, it causes the deer to pause before attempting to cross. The research shows mostly positive results in suburban areas. There are only certain areas in the city where deer collisions have been a concern. Solutions need only be implemented in those areas. Note that whichever solution we went with, we are eligible for 80-90% funding from the Federal Highway Administration’s Highway Safety Improvement Program and the Transportation Equity Act. The longevity of the reflectors is said to be 12 years. So, after the initial investment, the cost is an estimated $500 for maintenance (e.g. fixing posts). 

    If continued data collection does in fact demonstrate a deer population problem, how do we address that? It’s been said that sterilization is illegal in Michigan. Actually, there is an application process to use sterilization. The city has just not gone through that process. Cities in Ohio are currently testing sterilization. If any city in the State of Michigan could be successful in applying to use sterilization, Ann Arbor would be it. There has been criticism from some that fertility manipulations and other non-lethal methods are experimental. Yes, they are. However, that alone should not remove them from the discussion, nor should it negate the exploration of solutions to address the depletion of native foliage, the spread of Lyme Disease and deer/automobile collisions. We are a community built around a strong core of engineers, scientists, doctors, humanitarians and entrepreneurs. Ann Arbor’s greatest resource, our greatest talent, is our ability to innovate. Our research institutions, such as the University of Michigan, thrive on solving difficult problems related to our quality of life and the quality of our environment. In fact, the University of Michigan is now sending a representative to the city’s Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) meetings. That might be a good place to initiate discussions around infrastructure and environmental projects to address the above issues. Our organizations which focus on the humane treatment of animals are passionate about finding solutions to minimize threats to animal health. Our entrepreneurs are passionate about finding that next big thing which will bring them success. Collating all of these resources and participants would be a task. However, I would argue that the most successful and sustainable solutions will necessitate a collaboration between these various players. The solutions can involve more than just how we control deer population, but also how humans, deer and other living things co-exist in our environment. After all, it’s the human impact on the environment which has brought the problem into existence. 

    Jaime Magiera


    Michigan Deer Crash Statistics

    Michigan Lyme Disease Risk Map: 2015

    Effects of Wildlife Warning Reflectors (“Deer Delineators”) on Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions in Central Wyoming

    Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) Overview

    Mayor Column: Ann Arbor, U-M staff take historic step in capital improvement planning

  16. Barbara Irene Mag;er
    on January 19, 2016 at 9:18 am

    It might be helpful for scientists who are willing to reach out to offer something empirical/practical as a presentation. Have a session showing photos of what the woods (locally) looked like twenty or thirty years ago, then take people on hikes to show the difference made by deer. Specialized knowledge, if treated like an arcane religion into which some are initiated and others not, doesn’t reach people on the ground very well… I realize that some might not be interested at all, but there may be others who’d be willing to attend something like that and do their own thinking based on it. Something like this that affects the community so directly and so emotionally would be best approached by bringing people together and listening as well as talking (on both sides) with at least an attempt at respect for one another. The way this was pushed through did not exemplify that. Some of the city council members are now trying to make up for that and I appreciate it. There’s a disjunction there too between the decisions they are allowed to make and those passed on to more specialized commissions. The council members were themselves dismayed at what their decision wound up producing (extreme restrictions on nature area access, which are being modified bit by bit now). Think Empirical, as in direct experience. That’s what science was originally supposed to be, and that is often what gets people involved and caring and knowledgeable.

  17. Joe Kerridge
    on January 26, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    Where do I sign up? I would love to help. Avid and experienced deer hunter.

  18. Alisa Albert
    on May 20, 2016 at 6:33 am

    That might be a good place to initiate discussions around infrastructure and environmental projects to address the above issues http://www.ksatutor.com/ The damage caused by deer to farmers and gardeners is significant (ask any vendor at the farmer’s market how much they spend on fencing or much produce they think they lose due to deer

  19. Andrew Jason
    on May 21, 2016 at 5:12 am

    This article is really helpfull for students

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