Program to trap, kill nuisance deer in Elk Ridge set to begin despite pushback
Jul 31, 2023, 11:02 PM | Updated: Aug 1, 2023, 12:34 am
UTAH COUNTY, Utah — The city of Elk Ridge, Utah is divided over plans to euthanize the deer that roam its streets.
The animals are spotted on a daily basis, and some said they’ve become a nuisance.
The city’s plans to capture these deer and euthanize them start Aug 1. and will last the entire month. It’s in place for the next three years. City councilman Jared Peterson said it’s been years in the making.
“We’ve hit this from a public safety standpoint,” he said. “They’re hazards in the road, they’re causing interactions with people, property, their pets and we’d like to manage it to a safe level where we’re seeing the deer, but we’re not having the number of issues with them.”
He estimates the city’s herd consists of around 400 deer and said it’s been growing. According to the city’s deer mitigation plan, it is estimated a population of 200 deer is a safe level.
Many residents, including Phil Thaut, argue the deer are what adds charm to Elk Ridge and they’re not causing any harm.
“They’re woodland wildlife, they’re not pets and you have to respect that,” he said.
He and his wife regularly have deer visit their backyard. They said they’ve had to make some adjustments, like avoiding plants that attract deer.
“Every time you drive in the mountains and the foothills you have to be cognizant that there are wild creatures,” Thaut said. “Usually it’s our dogs harassing the deer, not the other way around.”
They take issue with the city’s decision to euthanize the deer. They said they don’t think the population has grown.
“It’s horrifying, it’s inhumane and in this case, it’s unnecessary,” Thaut said.
Peterson said the city collaborated with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to make their deer mitigation plan.
“We’ve spent a lot of time with the DWR to find out, they have proven ways that they found is the best to deal with this type of situation so we’re relying on them and other experts,” Peterson said.
The DWR won’t relocate these deer due to risk of spreading disease and low survival rates amongst deer who are relocated.
Resident Cindi Ellis is also opposed to the plan. She said some people started bad habits with the deer, causing more problems.
“I think that they need to let the natural process take its course, don’t let people feed the deer,” she said.
She doesn’t want the city to interfere with the animals.
“I am an animal lover, I will admit that,” Ellis said. “I love being around them, they bring peace.”
Some residents voiced concerns over the cost of the plan. Peterson said initially, the city talked about bringing in a contractor to trap and kill the deer, but the cost was substantial. He said trained volunteers will handle the process instead.
“We’ve got a list already of people who will take the meat and we will donate it to them,” Peterson said. Some residents said urban sprawl is the issue, not the deer.
“They were here first, not us,” Thaut said.