Trapping nuisance deer in residential neighborhoods and relocating them to more wildlife friendly areas is no longer an option promoted by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
The state-run agency said it came to that conclusion after a risk-benefit analysis showed that as many as half of the deer transported do not survive the change to their environment.
Instead, cities that participate in the state’s urban deer program will be authorized to lethally remove a limited number of deer each year, and the meat may be provided to families in need.
North Park Animal Control Officer Nolan Krebs said the cities of Hyde Park and North Logan quit using the trap-and-release program two years ago after he came to conclusions similar to DWR’s.
The last time he trapped urban deer, Krebs said three groups of 10 were tagged and transported to Blacksmith Fork Canyon, Laketown, and to western Box Elder County.
The deer that went to Blacksmith Fork Canyon have since returned, he said, while the deer that went to Laketown continue to be a nuisance — in a new community.
And in Box Elder County, Krebs said, the deer gorged themselves on the new spring grasses that their stomachs were no longer accustomed to digesting, causing them to bloat and die.
The DWR has estimated that it costs approximately $200 per head to transport the deer, and the agency was not seeing a benefit for their efforts.
However, by allowing lethal removal, the DWR is able to cut cost, increase benefit and reduce the spread of chronic wasting disease, the agency said.
While there is still an expense incurred for the lethal removal of deer, as well as cleaning and dressing of the deer, Nolan said that expense is absorbed by cities who participate in the program.
He frequently has a significant waiting list for people who have expressed a need and willingness to use the meat to feed their families.
Nolan said removal of the deer is a process that requires a great deal of care and thought, based upon location, time of day and safety to the community. While some people find the deer bothersome and are frustrated by the damage they cause, he said there are just as many people who enjoy the animals, so he does will not shoot the large bucks that people enjoy seeing in the community, and he makes every effort to be discreet.
When deer is available, he runs down his waiting list until he is able to find someone who can come and get the deer immediately. If needed, he puts information in the city newsletter.
Mendon is the only other community in Cache Valley participating in the DWR program, which is only offered to communities of more than 1,000 people. To date, they have only removed one deer, the DWR reported this week.