Aug 18, 2023 - News

What to do about Detroit's neighborhood animals

Canada geese shown behind some caution tape

Canada geese. Photo: Lance McMillan/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The city says it is inundated with concerns about wildlife causing problems and needs your help.

Why it matters: Officials want Detroiters to fill out a survey disclosing what problems they have with animals in their neighborhoods and what population control options they prefer, per deputy chief operations officer Jessica Parker.

  • She spoke alongside the state's wildlife managers, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), at a community meeting Wednesday in Rouge Park.
  • Let's face it — this is about possibly killing the animals.

Be smart: Detroit parks, especially Rouge and Palmer, have ecosystems of wildlife that are "out of balance" and bleeding into neighborhoods, Jeff Klein of the General Services Department said at the meeting.

  • There's a lack of natural predators in urban areas to keep wildlife populations in check — especially deer that kill smaller trees, overgraze, destroy gardens and collide with cars, Klein added.
  • Urban deer have a survival rate of 89% vs. 50% in rural areas, per the DNR.
  • Deer-car collisions were up 47% in Wayne County between 2016 and 2022.

Meanwhile, geese have poop that harms water quality and makes for unpleasant park experiences.

  • Migratory geese are dwindling but "resident" geese that stay around, get used to people and cause problems are "skyrocketing," per the DNR's Jared Duquette.
  • They can live 20 or more years and produce 100 babies in a lifetime.

🦌 For dealing with too many deer, the city's survey asks residents to pick from the following next steps:

  • Bring in U.S. Department of Agriculture sharpshooters to kill "a reasonable number of deer" and "donate the meat to a food bank."
  • "Do nothing" and allow the population to continue increasing.

🐦 For geese, the options are:

  • Egg oiling — dipping eggs in oil to block pores in the shell and asphyxiate the embryos — which is seen as more effective than just destroying eggs. The geese keep nesting with the eggs that won't ever hatch instead of laying another set.
  • Herding up geese and euthanizing them.
  • "Do nothing."

Context: The DNR needs "strong justification" to issue permits for federal agencies or contractors to kill overpopulated animals, Duquette said at the meeting.

What's next: The city says it's collecting survey results and deciding what to do from there.

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