Thoughts on the Deer from the desk of Mayor Christopher Taylor, December 2015
"No issue in recent memory has created such an outpouring of resident feedback as Ann Arbor’s deer cull; I have received hundreds of emails from residents on the subject.
After a long public process, the City Council voted 10 - 1 to implement a cull designed to take 100 deer. I voted “No”. To effect the cull safely, we have contracted with USDA and obtained a permit from the Michigan DNR. The cull will occur in designated city parks between January 1 and February 29. These parks will be closed Monday through Friday (4 pm - 7 am). No shooting will occur within 450 feet of occupied structures without resident approval. To learn more about the deer management program, see http://tinyurl.com/a2DeerManagement.
No one could listen in earnest to the concerns of residents who experience frequent deer conflict and not be sympathetic; I did, and certainly am. I understand many residents’ concern about deer’s impact on property and natural areas. Also, to be fair to my colleagues, non-lethal population control methods are not plainly and obviously ready for immediate deployment.
Nevertheless I believe that the killing of deer in the parks, the sanctioned discharge of firearms in our parks, the closure of our parks for extended periods of time – all these, I believe, are inconsistent with the ethos of our community and contrary to our fundamental values. Even if this view is not shared by all, it is plain and obvious that we lack community consensus on the cull. Shooting in the parks, even under controlled and person-safe conditions, will alter and degrade too many residents' conception of their city and their home. That's a fact. The cull will cost – has cost – our community spirit greatly. Reasonable people can differ on the cull, but in my view the cure is worse than the disease.
I do not now have, nor have I ever had, the authority to prevent the cull. Council resolutions are subject to mayoral veto within 72 hours of the vote, but vetoes can be overridden by a vote of 8 council members. In August and again in November, 10 Councilmembers supported the cull, rendering a veto futile. Since November, the extent and duration of the park closures are more fully understood. A vote to suspend the cull requires 6 votes. With the additional information, I believe a vote on a cull would today be closer, but the result would be the same. This is all to say, this year we will have a cull; next year, we’ll see."