UM Dearborn planning deer cull at school's 300-acre nature preserve

FILE - A whitetail deer looks for food in the woods.

The University of Michigan's Dearborn campus will cull the local deer population after its numbers reached the highest levels in seven years.

The school's environmental study area (ESA) along the Rouge River is threatened by the deer, whose numbers have grown to unsustainable levels after recent surveys of the area counted 76 total. Department of Natural Resource officials recommend between 5-10 deer in an area the size of the ESA - about 300 acres. 

UM-Dearborn officials have opted for a population between 20-30 animals. 

The cull is to protect the biodiversity of plants in the area, as well as reduce the potential for tick exposure in the community. 

Previous culls approved by DNR officials in the area resulted in improvements among various plants and trees, while also reducing the spread of invasive plants, officials said. It also helped sustain a nearby organic garden. 

The cull is being done during the school's spring break. 

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During the period from Feb. 26 to March 6, public access to the area will be limited in the afternoon and evening hours. The public should also plan on seeing an increased police presence. 

Any venison generated from the cull will be donated to a local food bank.