Euthanize or relocate? Provo weighs options for dealing with urban deer

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PROVO, Utah – City leaders say the urban mule deer taking up residence in Provo are becoming a nuisance, and now they’re working with the Division of Wildlife Resources to find ways to remove the animals.

“They come right up this trail between my fence, every night and every morning,” said Provo resident Ted Crowther.

Crowther owns a community garden and has had to put up 9-foot fences to keep the deer out. He says he's happy the city is finally doing something about them because he’s been dealing with the deer for decades.

“I’ve fought them for 35 years,” he said. “So I learned how to put a fence up.”

After receiving numerous complaints from residents about “urbanized” deer living in the city, the Provo Municipal Council is taking steps to remove them. City Council Member Gary Winterton said the deer are getting hit by cars, acting aggressively toward residents, and eating people’s gardens.

“They’ve just become more and more tame,” Winterton said. “They’re beautiful animals, and as a kid growing up here in Provo, I loved to see a deer once in a while, but now, we can step out of our front doors and see them almost on a daily basis.”

Other Utah cities have implemented deer removal programs, including Highland and Bountiful. The two main methods for removing them include euthanizing the animals, as is done as part of the urban archery program in Highland, or trapping and relocating them, as is done in Bountiful.

“We don’t want to target any deer that are coming down for the winter or for the spring green-up, we need to control those deer that are staying all year long,” Scott Root with the DWR said.

If the city chooses euthanization, which is the less expensive option, the city can donate the meat to homeless shelters or families in need.

“There’s opportunities to help some people in need too, with meat if they need it. And so we’re just looking to decide what’s best for the city,” Winterton said.

The Provo City Council plans to make a decision by the fall of 2016 on how to safely remove the deer. At that time, they'll work with the DWR and take appropriate measures to get them out of the city.

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