Local protesters call to “Stop the Shoot”


White LED lights make out lettered signs held by around 30 dedicated and impassioned members of Friends of Ann Arbor Wildlife in Nature (FAAWN). Their signs spell out “stop shooting” as they gather along the sidewalk of East Huron St. awaiting a city council hearing. They show signs to the oncoming traffic stuck at stop lights, forcing them to look at the brightly lit and colored signs. Their signs spell out “stop shooting”.

“Early [2015] there was a cull at University of Michigan Dearborn, it happened so fast I didn’t get a chance to protest or anything,” said Sandra Gardini, a Dearborn resident. “When I heard what was happening in Ann Arbor I decided I wanted to get involved, it was my way of honoring the deer in Dearborn.” Though Gardini isn’t a resident of Ann Arbor, she felt disappointed with her local government and felt the need to help out Ann Arbor in what she saw as an impending mistake our city was about to make.

“I started out with door-to-door petitions with amending the city charter to end the shooting within the city, I know it didn’t go anywhere but I still collected hundreds of signatures,” Gardini said. “There’s only so much I can do as an outsider.”

The Ann Arbor Non-Lethal Deer Management (A2NLDM) is a non-profit that raises money for public awareness of deer safety and alternative repellents, events and signs to keep the community aware of the non-lethal operations going on along with the lethal cull. They’re always looking for new volunteers, including high school students. Leader, Lorraine Fig, came out along with FAAWN to show their distaste for the City Council’s decisions.

“The deer culling issue has drawn me out because it is morally wrong to kill these innocent animals,” Fig said. “There are other solutions that are more humane than having to kill an animal that’s a sentient being and interacts with the world and is aware of what’s going on around it.”

At the City Council meeting, Fig plans to speak about her analysis of the deer cull, and what it, if anything, has been accomplished.

“Another criticism about deer [is that] there have been too many motor vehicle accidents, while there are people texting while driving [and] speeding and the city could add more preventive signs on the roads where we know where deer cross,” Fig added.

Another protester, who chose to remain nameless, commented on the effectiveness of the cull —someone who plans to bring in more facts on this emotionally fueled community issue—. “There’s no evidence that the cull has accomplished anything it set out to do. Car accidents with deer haven’t gone down and neither has Lyme disease. Now we’re 800,000 dollars poorer because of it.”

Fig continued on the topic of the city’s budget, remarking that $750,000 would do more for affordable housing or climate change and declining sustainability, rather than kill off the deer population of our town.

From Fig’s report, sterilization for the last year of the cull had taken place from the 28th to the 30th of November. Over those three nights only six deer were sterilized — not because there wasn’t enough time but, they couldn’t find any more deer. “My observation is that they’ve killed too many and haven’t even left deer for our enjoyment,” said Fig, “Despite these facts and observations the city still has a plan to kill another few hundred this year.”

It seems that the sterilization effort has not been futile but it does show some bleak information regarding the 2019 cull. Though there still has been little information released on the final year of the regarding which parks are closing and for how long.

“The city has been undergoing rapid development if they continue where are the deer supposed to go?” asked Fig.“The deer have to go somewhere if we keep encroaching on their habitat. We create problems for them and then we solve it by killing them. There’s too much killing in the world and this is just not justified.”

Lisa Abrams, the leader of FAAWN and active member in the Stop The Shoot movement, held a bright pink sign with the mantra “non-violence for one, non-violence for all” written across the poster in thick bubble letters. She shuffles the signs in the right order for reporters to photograph. She spoke on behalf of FAAWN at the City Council meeting, her main concern is the struggle within the sterilization effort to find deer to sterilize.

“We’re not only speaking to bring issue to the concern of population from the sterilizing, but also to call for an end of the cull since this is the fourth and hopefully last year,” Abrams said. “After the recent midterm elections I see a more moderate City Council that will be more willing to listen and hopefully won’t choose to repeat the last four years.”