Homeless man found in deer cull shooting area

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 - 4:22pm

Activists demonstrating against Ann Arbor’s deer cull discovered a homeless man living in a designated shooting zone for the cull Tuesday.

The deer cull began in 2015 after City Council approved sharpshooters to reduce the population of deer.

The demonstrators said their discovery demonstrates the city’s negligence in organizing the cull, which is currently in its third day of operation. City administrators were unaware the man was sleeping near one of the bait piles used in the cull.

The homeless man, who was visited and interviewed Tuesday by The Ann Arbor News, said he is aware of the culling operations and has not been in any immediate danger. He said he is confident in the contractor’s safety protocols and isn’t concerned about his safety.

Though the city does not disclose details of culling operations while they are happening, two years ago members of Friends of Ann Arbor Wildlife in Nature, a local animal rights group, claimed to have seen people entering Ann Arbor parks while sharpshooters were working, uninformed the contractors were shooting at the time.

Lisa Abrams, a FAAWN organizer, suggested other homeless people may be living near the cull areas. FAAWN is urging the city to postpone further cull operations until more thorough safety protocols are established.

City officials emphasize that the hired contractor, White Buffalo, Inc., continues to follow the safety measures outlined by City Council. According to MLive, Lisa Wondrash, communications director at White Buffalo, said the contractor is continually observing the area to look for any other people or safety hazards. White Buffalo also utilizes night-vision technology, allowing sharpshooters distinguish between deer and people or other animals. They also have enacted security protocols, like the use of night vision technology, to make sure people don't enter the cull areas while operations are taking place.

This is the city’s third annual deer cull, and the contractor aims to eliminate 250 deer by Jan. 31. The cull will likely continue as planned in the coming days.

Although the cull began from complaints regarding deer harming their properties  it has always been a subject of controversy in Ann Arbor. Supporters, such as University bioligists, claim it is the most effective way to prevent car accidents, the spread of disease, and ecological damage. However, oppononents criticize the city for not being transparent enough in its dealings regarding the cull.

In November, FAWWN created a petition arguing that City Council misused its funds to support a practice that, according to the group, was unsuccesful in controlling the city's deer population.

“Ann Arbor residents want to know that their tax dollars are being put towards programs that have their best interests at heart,” the petition reads. “For this reason, we are petitioning the City of Ann Arbor to stop the killing of 350 deer this Winter and look to non-lethal options to manage the deer population.”

Students also hold strong opinions about the city's response to dealing with the growing deer population. In an interview in Janurary 2017, LSA senior Aaron Brodkey, president of the Michigan Animal Respect Society told The Daily that he think it is not right for humans to interfere with nature.  

“Personally, I just think it’s maybe wrong or rash to make this decision,” he said.“I feel like we’re taking it into our own hands and playing God in this position and saying, ‘Hey, we need to massacre 100 deer for who knows what reason?’”