Deer in Provo are causing trouble — they’re eating gardens, getting impaled on fences and getting hit by cars. So now the city is moving ahead to start an urban deer hunt program to reduce the problem.
Between Jan. 1, 2013 and April 24, 2014, Provo police had 94 calls about deer carcasses, 53 calls about deer problems, 77 calls about live deer and one call about a deer traffic accident. Last month the council heard from the public about the problems residents are facing, mostly on the east side.
“I live on the east side,” said Councilwoman Kim Santiago. “When we had public comment I could relate to almost every comment that was made” — deer eating flowers and trees, getting impaled on a fence, hitting a deer with a car. “There are deer dying on our streets. I personally am supportive of this effort because there are ways to harvest the deer that we could actually use the meat. … It seems like a safer alternative to what we’re doing now.”
[pullquote]”There are deer dying on our streets. I personally am supportive of this effort because there are ways to harvest the deer that we could actually use the meat. … It seems like a safer alternative to what we’re doing now.” —Kim Santiago, councilwoman[/pullquote]
The first step toward a deer hunt in the city was when the council passed a law prohibiting people from feeding deer and other wild animals in the city limits — a requirement of the state, said council attorney Brian Jones. The second step came on Tuesday when the council approved, unanimously, to authorize the mayor to seek a certificate of registration from the state Division of Wildlife Resources stating that the city meets requirements for an urban hunt plan, and to start working on a draft plan to submit to the state. The draft will include information about what the hunt would cost the city and it will be discussed in more public meetings.
Any urban hunt program has to follow DWR’s guidelines, including that antlers have to be given to DWR and not taken by the hunter or city.
Highland is the only city in Utah County with an urban deer hunt program now. It does a limited bow hunt, and in two years 116 deer were killed, according to Provo officials. There were no stray arrows and the meat wasn’t wasted. Bountiful does a relocation program for deer, trapping them and taking them elsewhere — that hasn’t proven as successful, said Provo Mayor John Curtis.
In Highland, there’s a volunteer with deer and bow-hunting expertise who has organized the hunts, gone out to make sure rules were being followed and hunted for any lost arrows, Curtis said. He’d like to have Highland’s volunteer act as a consultant for Provo.
If everything is approved, Curtis would like it to be implemented as soon as possible but that may not be until fall 2016. “I think it’s important and a good thing to do,” he said.
But Curtis wants everyone to understand that once the hunt program starts there won’t be a point at which the city has solved the problem and can stop.
“It reminds me of carp removal in Utah Lake,” he said. “We start this and commit to it until you want the deer back in.”