USDA Sharpshooters Remove 65 Deer from Michigan Town, Meat Donated to Food Banks

by Halle Ames

A Michigan city council approved USDA sharpshooters to remove 65 deer from a park. The community will donate the meat from the deer to local food banks. 

The United States Department of Agriculture sharpshooters took care of a deer problem in Michigan’s capital in January. To manage the growing deer population, the sharpshooters took down 65 whitetails in East Lansing in a matter of two days. 

In February of 2020, the Lansing City Council approved the effort to make sure deer populations did not exceed “social carrying capacity.” 

Cathy DeShambo, the environmental services administrator for the Department of Public Works, says that the marksmen are professionals and emphasize safety in their work. 

“(The USDA) have biologists that are highly trained in firearms and do this work for other communities,” DeShambo said. “They’re very knowledgeable, and most importantly, they have a tremendous safety record.”

DeShambo also reveals that community members raised the issue after a survey was conducted by the city. It displayed the number of accidents that were due to deer throughout the year.

The survey results, presented to City Council in October 2019, showed that almost 80 percent of respondents were concerned about deer-vehicle accidents.”

The population control efforts took place on January 12 and 22 throughout six parks in the East Lansing area. 

Mixed Reviews in the Deer Population Control

Dana Watson, a member of the City Council, was not sitting on the board when they approved to kill the deer, but has received mixed reviews about the process on January 12. Some community members were thankful for the lessening due to the potential danger. In contrast, others were against the process entirely in fear of hearing gunshots or the unprovoked killing in general. 

Dana Watson said that she knew the option to remove the deer would be polarizing for East Lansing. 

“I just thought, at least the public deserved some more explanation about what this process looks like,” explained Watson. 

She also admits that she was apprehensive about the effort. One of the important questions she concerned herself with was where the meat would go, if the community would do anything with it at all.

However, everyone can support this. The community voted to donate all the meat from the deer to the Greater Lansing Food Bank. In addition, the Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger did the deer processing for free as well.

“It feels good that the deer went on to feed people and to feed people locally,” Watson said. “It feels good to understand that part of it.” 

Nearly 2,000 pounds of meat fed those in the Lansing, Michigan area during this cold winter. 

[H/T The State News]