East Lansing approves culling as option to reduce deer herds

White Tail Deer

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Officials in East Lansing have approved a lethal option to manage the growing number of deer in the mid-Michigan city.

The city council voted this week to authorize culling as a way to reduce deer herds, the Lansing State Journal reported.

East Lansing’s city manager would have to initiate a cull and partner with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s wildlife services to bring in sharpshooters to target deer in city parks.

Residents would be given advance notice of the hunts, according to the newspaper.

Environmental Services Administrator Catherine DeShambo told city officials that December is the earliest a deer cull could be held because the Agriculture Department is “completely booked up.”

The cost would be just under $6,000, she added.

But City Manager George Lahanas said East Lansing likely will budget closer to $20,000 in case the program would be needed in more areas and for a longer period of time.

More than 380 deer have been killed in Ann Arbor, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) southeast of East Lansing, since 2016 when hunters first were hired to cull the animals.

East Lansing’s deer population has been a growing issue since 2011 and became a bigger concern when chronic wasting disease was found in deer in nearby Meridian Township.

The fatal illness first was discovered in Michigan in a free-ranging deer in May 2015.

Residents favoring a cull have said the deer destroy gardens and cause traffic accidents.

“This is not a vote, for me, based on whether hostas are eaten,” said Mark Meadows, an East Lansing councilman. “There comes a point in time where there isn’t enough food for the deer, and I think controlling the population at this point in time is an appropriate way for us to go forward.”

Opponents have described culling as inhumane, immoral and ineffective, according to the newspaper.

“I just can’t be the mayor who agrees to kill the deer,” Mayor Ruth Beier said. “I also don’t think that it’ll work.”