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Posted on Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

Deer activity in Barton Hills doesn't justify plan to thin herd

By Guest Column

I am writing in response to the recent article on Barton Hills’ deer-thinning program. To adapt Paul Harvey’s phrase, I wanted to fill in “the rest of the story.”

In the article, a U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesperson represents the operation as a one-day “hunt,” with the possibility of another “hunt” in the future if the deer “continue to pose a problem.” According to multiple conversations my fellow Ann Arbor Township neighbors and I have had with the Michigan DNR, however, the permit Barton Hills received allows for the killing of up to 80 deer—and the USDA shooters have until Feb. 15 to meet this number. Barton Hills may currently be planning a one-day “hunt,” but this is not set in stone.

Also, the justifications cited for the program—“roadway safety” and “landscaping issues”—may be delightful euphemisms, but they fail to stand up to scrutiny. A new study by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments reported that car-deer accidents in Washtenaw County have been steadily declining since 2009. Furthermore, with Barton Hills’ low speed limits and ubiquitous speed bumps, hitting a deer would be virtually impossible.

Landscaping concerns are more legitimate since deer can indeed destroy plants. As the owner of a farm, I too get frustrated with deer-related crop damage. But, as the USDA official in the article points out, there are other non-lethal alternatives such as netting and electric fencing. Such prophylactic measures are oftentimes more effective than killing a portion of the deer population.

Barton Hills is ramping up its deer-thinning efforts just as broader trends appear to suggest a decline in the local whitetail population. In fact, according to the DNR, the deer population in the Southern Lower Peninsula of Michigan has been steady or declining over the past 5 to 10 years. The recent outbreak of the Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (deemed unthreatening to humans) has lead some to predict an even steeper drop in whitetails.

Enlisting federal officials to conduct a sophisticated deer-execution operation using baiting techniques and high-powered rifles with silencers cannot be the best answer to Barton Hills’ deer “problem.” Zero Dark Thirty was an entertaining movie, but we don’t need a reenactment in Ann Arbor Township just because someone’s shrubs are being eaten.



Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 1:33 a.m.

I am a resident of Barton Hills and I am forced to endure this ridiculous decision to bait and kill the deer. Many of my extended "neighbors " grow plants that are natural deer fodder out of ignorance or just plain obstinance. I made mistakes when Im first came here and I have now learned what is deer dessert and what is not. The problems with foliage are so complex to blame this on deer or rabbits or woodchucks is really shortsighted. Garlic mustard, planted by humans, is very effectively choking out new plant growth of any type. Increased ambient temps(again courtesy of the excesses of humans) have fostered amazing insect growth. I have many many scrub second level trees dying due to insect related disease, not deer. The situation is complex and my opinion is that the deer are not the issue. Meanwhile, I have way less viewing of ANY deer compared to when I moved here 20 years ago. Iused to have 4 deer that would walk along certain path in my woods once a day---I have not seen them in years and there is no deer spoor. I have not seen a fox in 10 years, nor have I heard a vixen call in 15 years. I don't even have racoons and only a rare skunk and only a few random squirrels and I live on 2 acres with at least 20 acres of free land around me. How could,that be? That is not a good sign--this means the eco system is way more unbalanced by human presence and other things than twenty years ago. this is less than 20% of the wildlife that I had when I moved here. I moved here for what was claimed to be an audubon like atmosphere. Regrettably, that is not my experience. I look t how well my plants and wild animals survive to gauge how habitable MY environment is and the answer is way less than 20 years ago and not because of deer, my friends.

Mr. Obvious

Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 1:30 a.m.

Barton Hills has had an excessive deer herd for a number of years, common sense supports reducing the numbers. The overall herd in Michigan is, and has, exceeded the DNR's target numbers for quite some time. The early and late firearm seasons for many years supports this. Large deer herds contribute to car/deer accidents, crop damage, and the potential for higher exposure to deer tick bites, and the associated illnesses that come with those bites. Having structured hunt/s with capable marksmen is a good approach for a successful outcome. And, perhaps some fresh, high protein, low fat meat for the local soup kitchens and shelters. To those chosen to participate.....lock and load, and get on on with it.


Sun, Feb 3, 2013 : 5:01 a.m.

Is this Ground Hog Day or what?


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 8:58 p.m.

I object to the Deer Camp Take Notice they are thinking about setting up for the hunt -