CORRECTED STORY: Ephraim council hears about deer control requirements
By James Tilson
EPHRAIM—A Utah representative spoke to the Ephraim City Council and answered questions regarding a potential deer control program in the city.
Wes Alexander from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) came to Ephraim for last Wednesday’s council meeting to explain state requirements for implementing a deer-control program if Ephraim decided to implement one.
“The program was created five years ago in response to complaints from city residents,” said Alexander. “The program allows cities to control deer population within city limits, as long as they one, have a no feeding ordinance, two, have a liability insurance policy, and three, have an estimate of the number of deer (living) inside the city limits.”
Alexander explained the DWR program allows cities to choose the method of deer control, within parameters set by DWR. However, the only option for final extermination of deer is euthanasia.
Because chronic wasting disease has been found in deer in Sanpete and Sevier counties, relocation to the mountains is not an option.
Any deer meat must be tested for disease prior to being released. Alexander added there have been no known incidents of humans contracting wasting disease. The testing is done at no cost to the cities.
The program can only be run from Aug. 1 through Dec. 31 because the DWR does not want to orphan fawns that were dropped in May and June.
The number of deer that can be euthanized in any year is capped at 100, including no more than 25 males. Alexander pointed out in order reduce any deer population, the female deer population must be reduced. Alexander also pointed out no city has ever controlled 100 deer in a single season.
Councilman Rob Nielson asked Alexander if there was any downside to the program. Alexander answered there had been very few negative incidents and cities have handled the program very professionally. However, deer control is an emotionally charged topic, and any city will have to plan on how to deal with citizen reaction.
Nielson then asked how well the program worked. “It’s tough to gauge,” Alexander said. He explained Herriman used the number of auto collisions to measure the effectiveness, and collisions did indeed go down. But Alexander cautioned that deer population would be an ongoing issue.
A number of residents had come to the meeting to discuss deer control and give their opinions on the issue.
Joe Scales told the council, “I think Ephraim has a serious urban deer problem. I think Manti has a reasonable solution, and I think our council should adopt it.”
Karl Kem told of his experience in other states that have “road kill laws.” “Most deer killed in traffic are urban, because they are not afraid of traffic,” he said. “If you hit it, it’s yours.” He added the other states have reporting and testing requirements, as well.
Craig Parry said he thought the deer problem was being overstated. “I don’t think it’s really a problem.”
Councilman Richard Wheeler read into the record a letter received by the council earlier in the week from Richard and Marie Stevens. “We would hope the city council (action) on a deer control (killing program) would be fully thought through. If the city wants to know the desire of the citizens, it should conduct a scientifically based survey. Petitions are always very biased.”
Larry Smith, who had gathered signatures on a petition, which asked for a deer control program, responded, “I want to thank the council for considering this difficult issue. I agree that petitions are biased. But very few people, only three out of the 34 that I asked, declined to sign the petition.”
Nielson suggested the council move forward with consideration of a deer-control program, including a final public hearing on the issue. The council agreed.