Council supports plan for late winter deer cull

By: 
JIM LINCOLN

The cost and effectiveness of last winter’s deer cull in Tecumseh led two Tecumseh City Council members on Monday to dissent in a plan for a second deer cull late next winter or early spring. Council voted 5-2 to apply for a state permit through the Department of Natural Resources and to seek a contract with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) wildlife services to conduct the cull.

Ongoing complaints continue to underscore the problems residents are having with deer as landscapes are devoured and safety is jeopardized for motorists and those who could suffer from tick-borne lyme disease.

Last year, the USDA cull removed 40 deer, only a “fraction” of the deer herd, according to City Manager Dan Swallow. In his report to council he said:

“City residents continue to report significant damage to their landscaping and gardens, and deer frequently traversing residential areas. The more aggressive browsing and feeding habits and higher activity during daylight hours also indicates that the population in the city remains near its carrying capacity and further growth of the herd could cause health issues in the deer population.”

Dense populations of deer promote the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease, which has been found in Hillsdale County, but has not been reported yet in Lenawee County, according to Swallow.

A consideration discussed by council in August to allow a cull within the city on parcels of 10 acres or more has been dropped due to safety concerns.

Swallow said safety concerns that private individuals are not as well trained as professional staff led, in part, to his recommendation not to pursue the option.

If the permit is approved and a contract with the USDA is made, the cost for a two or three night cull is estimated at $7,500.

Councilmember Vicki Riddle, who dissented in the vote, said she believed the deer cull made no difference. “The deer ate everything in my yard. I think it’s a waste of money.”

Councilman Ron Wimple asked if more deer could be included in the cull.

Swallow said the USDA may grant up to 50 additional deer, up from the 40 taken last winter. The cost of the cull does not determine the number of deer collected, he said.

“We have more deer than ever,” said Gary Fox, the second to dissent to council’s vote. “I don’t think the cull helped at all. At 40 (deer), we are not even matching the birth rate. The cull is not working,” he said.

Mayor Jack Baker said that one year is not a fair amount of time to make a judgement. I think it will take up to five years on an annual basis,” he said.

Public comment was received from four residents supporting the cull or a reduction in the number of deer. Addressing council were Beth Jahnke, of 308 Chippewa St.; William Clark, of 415 W. Chicago; Ken Pieh of 805 Outer Dr.; and Steve Kruger, of 303 Outer Dr.

“I am glad council voted for this to go through. I agree that it seems to not have made a difference this year, but I also firmly  believe it will take several years to get it under control.

“I walk the cemetery almost daily and early evening and I can see 18 to 30 deer. They are there all the time, they cross the road all day long, even in the middle of the day. I am surprised we haven’t had more accidents,” said Jahnke.

Pieh said, “We have a real deer problem. I agree with the mayor, we need a long-term plan in order to nip the problem. If we vote for it one year and not another year, we are not solving anything. We can’t continue to blow it off.

“The other day we had three bucks and four doe in our back yard, we have tried everything. I have put out granules, I have used spray, I have screened things off, I have staked things, we have no hostas, no trumpet vines, or lilies. My wife and I really like landscaping and it’s really maddening to go out there and  find everything eaten or snipped off. Something needs to be done.”

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Tecumseh Herald

 

110 E. Logan St.
P.O. Box 218
Tecumseh, MI 49286
517-423-2174
800-832-6443

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