All Urban Deer To Be Lethally Removed Under New Changes To Utah Urban Deer Program

May 15, 2019

Urban deer in Utah will no longer be caught and relocated, instead all urban deer will be lethally removed.
Credit Utah Division of Natural Resources

Urban deer conflicts can be frustrating when deer eat garden vegetables and deadly when deer are involved in car accidents. Utah's Division of Wildlife Resources reccently made changes to eliminate the relocation aspect of the urban deer program.

"So urban deer, as we continue to see urbanization across the state and we have more people moving into Utah, more people building houses higher up on the mountain, inevitably conflicts with deer continue to increase," said Mike Wardle, the private lands public wildlife coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

In 2014 the Division of Wildlife Resources began a pilot urban deer program with two options for cities: lethal removal of urban deer or translocating these deer from urban areas to rangelands.

"We did it with the intent that we wanted to fully understand the benefits and the associated costs and the risks that go along with translocating urban deer," Wardle said.

This month DWR discontinued the translocation option because the costs and risks outweighed the benefits.

"We’ve discussed the increasing prevalence of CWD across the nation or chronic wasting disease. We decided the risks of moving disease and the costs associated and the small benefit to wildlife is not worth those risks because not a lot of these deer survive," Wardle said.

According to Wardle killing urban deer will not decrease wild mule deer populations because the urban deer do not interact with the wild populations.

"They are typically quite separate," he said, "and it is such a small number too that we’re removing that even if they were connected I don’t think we would see a population level impact."

The Utah urban deer program will continue without the translocation option, and according to Wardle Utah DWR is still committed to helping cites find solutions for urban deer conflicts.