EAST LANSING, Mich. — East Lansing will be closing designated city parks intermittently in the evenings starting on Monday so USDA Wildlife Services biologists can shoot deer in an effort to reduce the local population.
"Last year, we removed 65 deer over the course of just two nights of closing our parks. And so this year, we're looking to do a very similar operation," said Catherine DeShambo, director of parks, recreation, and arts for the city of East Lansing.
She says management is something they've been working on for nearly a decade.
"It started with some residents surveys, an increase in concern from residents saying, 'You know, we like to see deer in East Lansing. But we're seeing too many. We're starting to see some really negative impacts from deer,'" DeShambo said. "We have residents who talk about not allowing the kids in the backyards anymore, because they're so concerned about the deer population that they've seen in their yards."
And there's also concern about disease and deer leaving feces in people's yards.
"It's a concern, as city leadership when you know consistently over 40 accidents occur within the city that are reported that are the result of deer-vehicle collisions," DeShambo said.
The next round of deer removal will take place from Monday through the end of March. The highly trained biologists will be using firearms to remove the deer.
"This particular equal measure is the one that was preferred in surveys to our residents, they really wanted professionals to come in who would put safety first amongst, you know, above everything else. And there's no pressure on these biologists to remove more deer than they can remove safely," DeShambo said. We simply want to reduce this population and reduce the pressure within our community in certain parts of our community in terms of that overpopulation."
Park closure signs will go up as early as 4 p.m. in the afternoon and the parks will officially be closed by 6 p.m. They will reopen at 7 a.m. the following day. Residents who live adjacent to the parks have already received letters of notice, DeShambo said.
"This is Monday through Friday operations. So it's going to be on weeknights, that parks will potentially be closed and on the weekends the parks will be fully open," said DeShambo.
For more information or questions related to the closings click here.
Meridian Township is also continuing its deer management efforts for 2022. Police officers will use firearms to cull up to 200 deer between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28.
This will take place during the evenings and overnight hours at select township parks and land preserves. It will also take place on private property Where the owners have given consent.
So what happens to the deer once they are removed? Well, both East Lansing and Meridian Township are partnering with Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger. The deer will be processed and the venison will be donated to local food banks.
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