Nighttime Deer Culls Set to Start, with Park Closures Running through Early March (More Info)

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Gary Caldwell for ELi

A trio of deer in an East Lansing park.

With East Lansing’s first-ever deer cull beginning as soon as Monday, Jan. 11, City Manager George Lahanas announced during Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting that City parks will intermittently close from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. through Mar. 1 to allow for the cull.

The nighttime park closings are meant to allow contracted USDA sharpshooters to complete, without risk to humans, a deer cull in East Lansing parks throughout the duration of the City’s permit, which opened on Jan. 2 and ends at the beginning of March.

“Because of that, we need to change the hours of operation for our parks to make sure that we’re not having residents and people in our parks during that time,” Lahanas said, without specifying which parks would be used for the cull. 

During the meeting, Lahanas read a statement that will be posted at park entrances, along with barricades, when sharpshooters are at work in that particular park: 

“By the authority granted pursuant to section 28-3 of the code of the City of East Lansing, I hereby establish the following different closing hours for City parks. Beginning January 11, 2021, and through March 1, 2021, all City parks shall be subject to closure, when posted, between the hours of 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. for the purpose of wildlife management. When closed, during the above dates and hours, City park entrances, including parking lots and pedestrian paths shall be posted and barricades to notify the public of the closure. It shall be unlawful for any person except for those persons authorized by the City Manager for wildlife management to enter, cross through, or remain within any park during such closure.”

In short, when a park entrance in East Lansing is barricaded with that notice posted between now and March, it can be expected to be closed from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. 

“The idea here is to put notice to our residents,” Lahanas said, that “over the next couple of months that there will be these spontaneous placing of barricades at the parks to notify people that the parks will be closed for their safety.” 

Update: On Wednesday, Jan. 6, the City issued a press release about this issue, writing that “United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) biologists highly trained in the use of firearms will be conducting professional deer removal under a cooperative service agreement with the City of East Lansing and a permit from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR).”

The release continues, “This professional, safe and highly managed removal of a portion of the deer population is being conducted in designated park areas to address deer overpopulation in the East Lansing community, which has resulted in vehicle/deer accidents, public health concerns, damage to landscaping and a disruption to the ecological balance of natural areas.” 

As Lahanas indicated on Tuesday night, “In addition to the park closures/signs, notification letters are being sent out to residents in the immediate area of the parks where this work will be completed.”

What will be done with the killed deer? According to Wednesday’s release, “The deer that are removed from East Lansing’s parks will be processed and the venison will be donated to the Greater Lansing Food Bank. Michigan Sportsman Against Hunger is generously providing the funding for the processing of the venison.”

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