Backyard Bambi to stay, Urban deer removal on hold in Sandy
Jun 03, 2016 08:31AM ● Published by Chris Larson
Sandy City is not currently considering an urban deer removal program, despite the efforts of citizens for and against such a program in 2014 and the successful conclusion of two Division of Wildlife Resources pilot programs for viable removal methods in July 2015.
After a notably difficult winter in 2014, several cities took action to thin out the herds of deer living in city limits and, according to some, were damaging property by trampling or eating landscape.
"The concern becomes when the presence of the wildlife presents a nuisance or hazard for citizens," Sandy City Animal Services Director Ian Williams said.
He said having too many deer interacting with property or residents could potentially lead to problems, specifically with potentially spreading disease or causing car accidents.
"Now is the time of year where we don't get a lot of deer activity in the city," Williams said. "But this makes it a great time to make a decision so that when the fall and winter roll around we have a program in place."
Mike Applegarth, Sandy City Council Office Director, said it appeared that there were a lot of deer in the city limits in 2014. That year, the city received a petition asking the city to take action to remove the deer. A competing "save the deer" petition was also submitted to the council, Applegarth said.
The Sandy City Council approve a new "no feed"ordinance, which forbids citizens from feeding wildlife, last summer, hoping it would help eliminate potential nuisances.
"We have had a few people allege and point out that people were putting out food for deer to come into their backyards," Applegarth said.
He also said that the city council has considered both methods of deer removal the Divisions of Wildlife Resources.
Scott Root of the Division of Wildlife Resources said that a trapping program in Bountiful and an expert hunt were both effective for reducing urban deer populations. These options were presented by the wildlife division to the city council for their assessment, Applegarth said.
"The Council is somewhat skeptical of the efficacy of those programs as it pertains to Sandy,” Applegarth said.
Williams said the expert hunt required volunteer crossbow hunters to certify with the wildlife division before they began hunting dear without antlers. He said that meat from deer killed in Highland was processed and donated to those in need in the city. Total cost for processing is $40.
Applegarth notes the cost effective nature of this option as well as the controversy of hunting deer in city limits. The trapping option requires paying for specialists and equipment for baiting, watching and maintaining traps, as well as the resources to transport deer out of the area.
Both Williams and Applegarth said there is a split in public opinion over the issue. Comments from the public appear to fall into two camps: people enjoy connecting to nature through the local deer on their property and on public lands, or people see the deer as a nuisance that needs to be addressed.
Williams said that the city could invest in a survey to get a little more clarity on the issue. He also looks forward to additional public comment.
The "don't feed the animals" ordinance is one requirement for the wildlife division to approve a deer removal program, along with having a $1 million in liability insurance set for the program and proof that deer are substantially damaging private or public property to name a few other requirements.
Surrounding cities Draper and Alpine have program active deer removal programs.
Applegarth said the council hasn't taken additional action on the issue yet.
Williams said he will leave the policymaking to the council while offering opinion as the council collaborates with various departments on the issue.