Tuesday, November 18, 2008

MICHIGAN NEWS: Deer Cull Approved for Rochester Hills

With approval given by the Rochester Hills City Council Monday night, Oakland County Sheriff’s Office snipers will be used to thin the deer population throughout the city.

The council voted 5-2 in favor of the controversial measure for the service, which will be provided by the sheriff’s office for free to the city and will allow up to 200 deer to be culled initially. It’s estimated that there are at least 1,000 deer in the city.

Councilmen Jim Rosen and Ravi Yalamanchi voted against the issue, which would not allow culling on private or commercial properties.

Residents on both sides of the issue spoke out, with opponents expressing concern about the danger of having sharp shooters in the city.

“I don’t want our city to become a target practice range,” said Agnes Domanska, 32, of Rochester Hills. “I do realize the sharp shooters are skilled, but accidents can happen to the best of us.”

The council plans to review the results of this winter’s culling in June 2009 to determine its effectiveness. It’s unclear whether the sheriff’s office would continue to provide the service for free each year.

Lance DeVoe, the city’s naturalist, said culling is more effective when it’s done over multiple years.

Along with the culling, the council also approved seeking grants to improve signage, add reflectors or fencing to roadways and continuing to educate residents about the deer population. As well, the meat from the deer killed will be processed free of charge by Safari Club International and the Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger and donated to local food banks, DeVoe said.

The council also enacted a feeding ban in September.

Rochester Hills resident Jean Teschendorf, who has deer passing through her yard every day, is in favor of culling the deer. She said she’s concerned that deer can carry Lyme disease or that a buck could charge through the back windows of her home.

“I have more fear of the deer than anything else,” Teschendorf said.

For months, the council has considered several ways to control the deer, which caused 219 car wrecks last year, according to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.

“I’m very fearful that there are going to be continuation of accidents and more problems,” said Councilman Vern Pixley. “My feeling is, and the research that I’ve done is, if there are fewer deer, there will be fewer accidents.”

DeVoe said the city is also mailing out informational pamphlets about the deer and is looking to improve signage alerting drivers to high-population deer areas.

He also said putting reflectors on roadways could cost up to $14,300 for a half-mile area or $28,600 for a mile.

DeVoe said taking a multifaceted approach to the deer population problem is more effective.

“Deer are wild animals,” he said. “They’re not supposed to be eating out of our hand and getting names and recognizing every member of the family. They should be in the woods, behaving as wild animals are supposed to behave.”

Source: Detroit Free Press