House OKs outlawing deer sterilization in Michigan

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
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Lansing — There’s no fixing deer in Michigan under a bill passed by the House Tuesday.

The bill, which prohibits the sterilization of any game through April 2022, was introduced after hunters expressed concern about a deer population control method they felt preempted the sport, said Rep. Triston Cole, who introduced the bill.

“The hunting population wants to see hunters utilized first,” said Cole, R-Mancelona.

The bill, passed 69-40 in the House, will move on to the Senate.

The use of sterilization for Ann Arbor deer initially prompted the concerned calls from hunters, Cole said.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources issued a permit in 2017 to a private contractor, White Buffalo, to manage large deer populations in Ann Arbor through culling and sterlization.

Considered a “research” permit, the authorization to sterilize deer there was the first ever given by the DNR, according to a bill analysis. The permit was granted because closely located homes in parts of Ann Arbor made shooting the deer nearly impossible.

Using the permit in 2017, Ann Arbor sterilized 54 female deer by removing their ovaries and culled another 100 deer. The city plans to spend another $370,000 to manage its deer herd through culling and sterilization

The legislation would prohibit any further sterilizations statewide besides the permit already in place in Ann Arbor.

“We want a healthy and vibrant wildlife population and when it comes to the game population our best tool is the hunting population,” Cole said.

The bill also requires a report from the DNR on its sterilization research so far; allows the Natural Resources Commission to issue a higher number of deer kill tags in management zones; and allows communities to adopt firearm hunting distance requirement less than the current 150 yards.

“This is a larger approach,” Cole said. “It’s not just about stopping the sterilization of deer. It’s part of a much larger conversation.”

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