City to consult with MSU on problem with deer population

For some time, residents have been noticing an increase in the deer population roaming the Tecumseh community. Their numbers concern people from a safety perspective with car-deer collisions, and some complaints are based on too many of the species feasting in gardens and tearing up yards.Tecumseh City Manager Kevin Welch was asked by council a few months ago to look into what strategies might be taken to control the deer population in the city. Through his most recent city manager’s report, Welch communicated to council members that a contact to Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) resulted in a referral to Michigan State University (MSU). Welch reported that a representative from MSU would be visiting the city in October to review the community’s specific situation and possibly make some suggestions.“However, I was warned not to expect a solution that will make everyone happy,” Welch wrote in the report. “What may come of this meeting is some educational information for residents who may wish to address issues on their own property.” He added that MSU might also be able to identify some bigger solutions, some that could be controversial and expensive.The growing deer population has been an ongoing issue in the state, along with higher numbers of other wildlife, something DNR Wildlife Division Biologist Kristen Bissell confirms, saying the population is above the state’s goal. She agrees that urban sprawl and fewer hunters add to the situation.“Humans are the main source of mortality for deer in the Lower Peninsula,” Bissell said. “The fact that there are fewer hunters is taking a huge mortality source away from a prey species. The milder winters we’ve been having are another factor.” She added that as habitats have changed over the years, the deer are thriving in areas that fulfill all their needs. “With urbanization and parceling up property, they are finding refuge,” Bissell said. “They are a highly adaptable species.”There have also been reports in various communities, including locally, about the potential increase in other species of wildlife, such as coyotes. Residents in nearby townships such as Raisin Township have reported hearing yipping at night.“Like the deer, they are taking advantage and adapting to an urban situation,” said Bissell. “A lot of species roll with the changes as well as we do, whether it’s deer, coyote, raccoons, opossum, squirrels, whatever.” She said where there is a high concentration of people, there will be a high concentration of garbage left out. “Coyotes will scavenge, as will other wildlife,” she said. Some people have expressed fears that coyotes might go after small pets. Bissell said while that is not unheard of, the animals typically will hunt smaller animals such as mice and rabbits.“Remember they are not a huge animal, so they might view a pet like a barking Labrador as a threat, as they will most people,” she said. “Coyotes aren’t usually out to attack. They are out for an easy meal. They weigh their risks and benefits.” She said when food dishes for pets are left outdoors, or trash is accessible, the animals are attracted to the area. “Even those who put out bird feeders may not realize they are attracting more than the birds they hope to attract,” she said.In his city manager’s report, Welch also noted the higher number of geese in the Tecumseh area this year and is researching that problem as well.“Geese are constantly looking for resources, and if they fly over and something changes in the landscape that makes one area more attractive than others, they will concentrate on that area,” Bissell said. “We’ve been hearing of concerns involving wild turkeys becoming a nuisance of late as well. With this dry summer, there might be another area that used to be a good spot that has dried up, and another water source looks better. Maybe the crop fields have changed within their home range.” She said that the wildlife is reacting to a much larger landscape level and conditions and changes than what people may see in their own backyards.Bissell said human behavior can most definitely have an effect on the surrounding wildlife, particularly in the area of food availability.“One of the human behaviors that can be most easily changed is not leaving food out that wildlife can get into,” she said. “When you do that, you’re telling the animals that your house is a source for food.”

Tecumseh Herald


110 E. Logan St.
P.O. Box 218
Tecumseh, MI 49286

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