Metroparks’ deer culling process under review
The executive staff of the Huron Clinton Metropolitan Authority recently agreed to re-evaluate their deer population management program following outrage after it was discovered that a white-furred, whitetailed buck had been shot and killed.
News first surfaced that the deer, which was identified by park officials as a piebald, had been unintentionally shot and killed as part of a population control effort at Kensington Metropark in February.
Local residents, nature lovers and wildlife photographers say they are heartbroken over the loss of the 8-point buck, and recently voiced their disappointment during the Metroparks Authority Board of Commissioners meeting earlier this month.
“I saw this article and it amazed me that sharpshooters can’t tell the difference between a doe, a buck and an albino,” one woman said during public comment. “This deer used to bring people from all over, including myself, now I will not being coming to this park because the deer is not here. The draw is not here and I think it’s so sad. I think the sharpshooter needs to be instructed that just because something moves doesn’t mean you kill it.”
White-furred, white-tailed deer are extremely rare in Michigan. Some numbers suggest that the ratio of seeing an albino or piebald deer is one in 100,000. The white deer that was killed in February as part of a cull to reduce the deer herd in the area was a rare site at Kensington Metropark for more than three years.
In a letter to Western District Park Superintendent Kimberly Jarvis, Gregory Miller, a photographer who photographed the buck, said, “We all have lost something here, something unique, beautiful, rare and irreplaceable. Our lives and experiences in the park will be poorer because of it.”
Overall, residents have asked for a review of the deer management program policy, to which some of the Commissioner members agreed with and requested that staff take another look at the policies and rules of the deer culling program employed at the parks.
“The unfortunate incident gives us an opportunity to evaluate our current program to determine where we may see potential opportunities to enhance or modify the program to ensure that we can minimize … this occurring in the future,” Director of Parks George Phifer told The Oakland Press.
The Metroparks authority has deer management programs at both Kensington and Indian Springs metroparks, as well as others. According to park officials, 9 out of 13 Huron Clinton Metroparks employ a deer management program.
Deer management programs were instituted at the parks because the natural habitats that the parks try to preserve were being destroyed. The agreement indicated that only doe should be taken in population control.
“It seems like a cover up. So many people who knew about it are afraid for their jobs to say anything and we just found out about it,” Carl Sams, a well-known Milford-based photographer, said. “I’d like the committee to take a better look at this culling.”