Manti traps seven deer over 11 weeks in first year of deer contol progam
By Suzanne Dean
MANTI—Manti City has just completed the first year of its deer control program.
According to Kent Barton, the city manager, the city set out six traps about Aug. 1 and moved them around to about 12 locations before taking them down last week. Seven deer were trapped and killed.
“I don’t know that we really had an expectation as to number,” Barton said. “Our objective was to respond to resident concerns” about deer causing property damage.
Urban deer-control programs have been set up all around Utah. They are designed to control the growth of deer herds that take up permanent residence in a city, not deer that come down from the mountains looking for food during the winter.
“We certainly have a growing herd in our community,” Barton said. He said the seven deer trapped this fall probably represented fewer than 10 percent of the deer living in the city year-round. “I would guess the size [of the herd] is about 100,” he said.
Under state law, the first step in implementing an urban deer-control program is getting approval from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR). In summer 2019, DWR authorized the city to run the program for three years. After that, if the city complies with state requirements, DWR will renew the program for a longer term.
In August 2019, more than 80 residents attended what turned out to be an emotional public hearing. Based on the hearing, public opinion was split, with perhaps a few more people favoring the program than opposing it. The Manti City Council approved the plan Sept. 11, 2019.
The plan called for the city to keep track of complaints from residents between passage of the plan and the next summer. Before setting out traps, city staff, some council members and DWR representatives needed to meet to discuss what was going to happen.
According to Barton, that meeting, and some related meetings, occurred in late spring of this year. DWR supplied the traps, which are essentially cages with fabric mesh around the outside. When a deer steps inside the cage, a door drops, trapping the animal.
Based on complaints from residents and staff observation of the local deer, traps were set up in all four quadrants of the city, Barton said. Most of the traps were placed in backyards of people who had complained about deer. One trap was set up on city property near the northwest corner of the city.
Over the 11 weeks of the program, the traps were moved to different locations to cover about 12 sites in all, Barton said. There were some locations where a trap was set up, but no deer were ever captured.
“We tried to place them in an inconspicuous area, where there weren’t a lot of people, because that causes less stress for the deer once it’s in the trap,” Barton said.
At the DWR’s recommendation, the city put apples in the traps as bait. He said a lot of the deer, when trapped, just sat down and ate apples.
Barton did not want to talk about how the city killed the deer it captured. He said Bryan Bies, the city animal control officer, had received training in putting down the animals. “It’s humane, it’s quick, and it’s safe,” he said.
“We were trying to find a balance between property-owner needs, a resident deer herd with no natural predators, and also respect for life,” Barton said.
He said the city’s goal is not to eradicate the deer herd living in yards, pastures and city streets in Manti. “We just want to control it.”