Deer cull at UM-Dearborn to shrink growing herd

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Hunters fanned out near the University of Michigan-Dearborn on Tuesday in a bid to cull deer numbers near the campus, the university said.

About 50 deer were expected to be killed.

“The deer populations are definitely getting larger in urban areas — there are no natural predators in this area and we’re not allowed to hunt,” said Ken Kettenbeil, a university spokesman. “If not managed through a humane means like this, (the herd) will continue to grow and … the deer will suffer consequences, as well.”

The cull was launched in a 300-acre environmental study area adjacent to Wayne County parkland and managed by UM-Dearborn, Kettenbeil said.

Last year, an aerial study showed 57 deer in the area; in January, that number climbed to 76 — surpassing the Michigan Department of Natural Resources recommended limit of five to 10 for a tract that size, Kettenbeil said. Meanwhile, collisions between deers and vehicles have risen recently in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights, he said.

The aim is to shrink the herd to 20-25 deer, he said. He did not have information on the number of deer shot Tuesday.

An agreement with the county calls for the university to maintain the property “in its natural state,” he said.

“Because of the increasing deer population, we are unable to do that,” he said. “There are plant species that are being eliminated, invasive species are coming in. … With increased deer population comes increased risk of ticks, which carry Lyme disease.”

The Wayne County Commission approved the cull last week, and the Dearborn City Council voted in favor of it on Monday, Kettenbeil said. A DNR permit allows the cull through Sunday.

Three shooters with Rose City-based Berg’s Animal & Bug Control shot from tree stands between 4-11 p.m. Tuesday. Wayne County Sheriff’s deputies and campus public safety officers cordoned off the area, which is “really deep into the woods, behind all the buildings” at the school, Kettenbeil said.

UM-Dearborn is on spring break, he added, so “it’s a very slow time on campus and that was another reason why this week was selected.”

The cull could tentatively continue Wednesday. The DNR permit expires Sunday, Kettenbeil said.

Meat from the felled deer will be donated to Detroit’s Capuchin Soup Kitchen and Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan.