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Survey shows deer overpopulation is widespread

December 5, 2011

After about two weeks of surveying East Lansing residents regarding problems with deer overpopulation in the area, early responses indicate the issue is widespread, East Lansing Environmental Specialist Dave Smith said.

As of Dec. 5, about 201 people had submitted replies to the city’s survey, which seeks resident input on the area’s deer population following an increase of vehicle accidents involving deer this year and deer-related complaints dating back to last winter.

The survey closes Dec. 19.

In talking with residents and reviewing initial responses, Smith said complaints with deer are not confined to one specific area but are spread across East Lansing.

Complaints range from deer eating vegetation near houses to interfering with traffic, he said.

“The survey was really just an attempt to see what was out there,” Smith said. “What we’re finding so far is, ‘Yes, it is a problem.’”

Transportation problems related to deer have been on the rise recently, Smith said.

This year, city police have responded to about 43 car-deer accidents, a jump from last year’s 26 reported car-deer accidents.

This marks the third year the number of car-deer accidents has increased, Smith said.

Crashes could be on the rise because of lower speed limits around East Lansing or the city’s urban concentration, he said.

Smith said the city’s heavily wooded areas — including the Red Cedar Neighborhood – have drawn more deer, as well as complaints.

Smith added no formal deer management plan will be developed or explored until survey responses can be evaluated.

Nearby Meridian Township already has implemented a deer management plan}&DE={B87835ED-BFDE-4310-924B-97EE78B86963} regulating bow hunting in the area.

Previous deer management plans implemented around the state also have focused on limiting deer numbers through hunting management, said Brent Rudolph, the deer and elk program coordinator with the

“Part of the problem is visibility (involving deer in the wild), so you might want to control visibility along the roadway,” Rudolph said.

Hospitality business junior Zach Emling — who hunts deer and other animals in-season — said tagging permits are used near his hunting grounds in the northern part of the state to limit the types and number of deer hunters can kill, including doe and bucks.

“It keeps population down a little bit,” he said.

City officials now should step back and examine the problem before determining the next step, Rudolph said.

“They’ve got to take a look … at where the problems are occurring,” he said. “If they’re widespread … you may have to resolve it by addressing deer numbers.”

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