UPDATED: The Latest on East Lansing’s Deer Cull – It’s Been Completed

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Gary Caldwell for ELi

A trio of deer in an East Lansing park.

UPDATED at 3:35 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 2021: The City announced on Friday afternoon that the deer cull had been completed. According to the press release, a total of 65 deer were killed over the course of two evenings by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Services biologists, who are trained to use firearms.

The City was initially issued a permit to cull 50 deer, but it “was revised for up to 70 deer based on the level of deer activity in the parks on the first night of the removal operations,” as noted in the press release.

The approximately 2,000 pounds of meat yielded from the cull will be donated to the Greater Lansing Food Bank.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: The deer cull has been a hot topic in East Lansing, with some residents expressing relief and others having called on Council to stop it. The cull went unmentioned at City Council this week, but here’s what we’ve been able to ascertain.

According to several ELi readers, USDA sharpshooters were actively killing deer Thursday evening in the Pinecrest/Harrison Meadows area. A City employee also told ELi that a cull operation had occurred on Thursday, resulting in 33 deer being killed and removed, including 19 from Harrison Meadows Park.

The night before, at Wednesday’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission meeting, Parks Director Tim McCaffrey told commissioners that the City had a permit to cull 50 deer total, and 32 deer had been culled last week.

McCaffrey told the commission he had received this information through a conversation he had with Environmental Services Administrator Cathy DeShambo. McCaffrey said a second cull might occur on Wednesday evening (that night).

On Thursday, during the day, ELi contacted the City’s Communications Coordinator Mikell Frey to see if a cull had occurred Wednesday night. She responded Thursday evening, stating that no cull had occurred on Wednesday, and indicating that the City would release a press release when the cull was complete.

Then, ELi received notice of the cull that allegedly occurred Thursday night. Zachary Engelman wrote to ELi saying that while walking his dogs on Abbot Rd. just north of the Fire Department on Thursday evening, he heard a gunshot from the direction of Harrison Meadows Park and trails. A second reader, Alice Erickson said she believed sharpshooters were working in the park near her home in Pincecrest on Thursday night.

Neither was happy about the cull. Engelman expressed his distaste by closing his email with a thumbs-down emoticon. Erickson said she was concerned that sharpshooters may have culled a doe who had been raising four fawns.

Meanwhile, readers who have been wanting the cull report to ELi that they are seeing far fewer deer in their yards, including in the Lantern Hills and Pinecrest neighborhoods.

ELi has contacted Frey and Wendy Longpre, the Assistant Parks Director, to ask for the latest information on the number of deer killed, since no press release has been forthcoming.

If the numbers provided by the City employee and McCaffrey are correct, the City of East Lansing may have culled more deer than their permit allowed, killing and removing as many as 65 instead of 50. We are trying to find out if they have pulled a second permit.

Longpre explained to the commissioners at Wednesday’s Parks and Rec meeting that the meat from the cull deer was being processed and donated to the Greater Lansing Food Bank.

Campus Deer Culls Have Been a Thing

Both Parks & Rec Advisory Commission Chair Pam Weil and McCaffrey suggested that “animal control” occurs with some regularity on campus.

ELi was able to confirm that culling is done on campus. According to MSU Spokesperson Emily Guerrant, culls occur in the farmland on south campus because the area is “home to many research projects and deer are destructive to many of the projects.”

MSU contracts with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service that culls several dozen deer annually. The meat from that program is also processed and donated.

[This article was updated at 3:35 p.m. to state that the cull has been completed.]

Make sure ELi can keep you informed on this topic.

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