The phrase “deer lives matter” is generally used in jest, but activists used the slogan quite seriously to protest a controversial deer cull near Ann Arbor, Michigan. About 60 animal rights activists gathered in downtown Ann Arbor last weekend to host a memorial service for the 63 deer killed in a recent cull.
“In a universal capacity, we’re asking Ann Arbor to return to a path of peace, and this particular day we are offering a memorial to the deer that have been shot as a result of the Ann Arbor deer cull,” Shunahsii Rose, who organized the memorial rally, told Mlive. “People who are here are from many different spiritual traditions and different communities, and I felt like it was important to have an interfaith acknowledgement of the longing for peace in our city.”
The Ann Arbor City Council recently voted overwhelmingly in favor of the cull after increasing resident complaints of deer overflowing into urban areas. Deer overpopulation is not something to be taken lightly. The animals can cause significant deforestation, damage to private property, provide a hazard to motorists, and even fan growing concerns of lyme disease. Perhaps most importantly from a wildlife management perspective, overpopulated deer are prone to starvation.
The cull took place from January 2 to March 1. Sharpshooters were provided by the US Department of Agriculture to kill up to 100 deer, but in the end only took 63 by the end of the culling period. The venison from the cull was donated to local food shelters.
It is important to note that these kind of culls do not involve the average hunter, but instead US Department of Agriculture employees. Generally, hunters prefer that officials open up regular urban hunting seasons to control the deer population. This has proven to be effective in several instances, but is widely opposed by animal rights advocates.
Opponents of the Ann Arbor deer cull instead urged contraceptives or other non-lethal, but potentially more expensive, methods of population control.
“Deer lives matter, and all lives matter. We are all one in spirit.” activists chanted at the memorial. “When we kill the deer, we kill ourselves.”
You can see a video of the memorial below: