Public Opinion split on proposed deer control program in Manti

Deer above were seen in a resident’s yard inside the Manti City limits last week. City officials say about 250 “urban deer” live in the city year-round. The city council held a hearing last week to gather input on strategies to control the deer.

Public Opinion split on proposed deer control program in Manti

By Teri Forbes and Robert Stevens

Staff Writer

MANTI—Many Manti City residents attending a public hearing on urban deer control aren’t sold on a plan to trap and euthanize them.

More than 80 people attended a public hearing Thursday Aug. 15 to discuss the controversial topic of dealing with nuisance deer.

“It has always been the intention of this city council to hold a public hearing prior to implementation of a deer control program,” said Mayor Korry Soper. “In fact, a public hearing is a requirement of the DWR as conditions of approval of our plan.

“Our desire tonight is to hear from you, our citizens. That is the reason we sent a notice of this hearing to every household in the community. We desire to hear from everyone who wants to be heard.”

Out of the 38 people who participated in the public hearing, 12 were in clear support of the proposed plan. The majority either spoke out against the plan, wanted to hear about other options, or, at the very least, wanted more details on just how much the proposed deer control program would cost the city—an answer no one could give them.

A reoccurring question during the public comment period was how much the program would cost, but the response from the city was typically, “we’re here to listen” and no solid cost estimates for the proposed plan were given.

More than a couple people used their two-minute comment period to suggest there were much better uses for the money than trapping and killing deer. Putting money into the roads, infrastructure and the ballpark were all suggested as better uses of the money.

Carson Draper, a Manti resident, spoke up by saying $20 worth of tomatoes was not worth taking an animal’s life.

Another reoccurring theme mentioned during the meeting was taking responsibility for one’s own property.

Carly Campbell spoke up and said her garden is protected with deer nets and fencing and she does not have problems.

Trina Madsen said her home is full of flowers, trees and a garden. She agreed it is the property owner’s responsibility to protect their property. “I am not for this at all,” Madsen said.

Laura Kay Baum, a former animal control officer in Ephraim, said she attended to listen to the plan. She has a garden and does not have any problem with the deer. She asked the council to make a “wise, kind decision.”

The proposed plan enjoyed some enthusiastic support from some public attendees as well.

John Keeler, Cynthia Olsen and Fred Johnson as spoke up in support of the plan.

Charlene Pearson said, “I like the plan.”

“It would appear that no matter what the ultimate outcome, we will disappoint some of our citizens and constituents,” said Soper. “Some of you have been critical of the city and accused of us of dragging our feet in dealing with this problem. Others of you are upset that we are considering deer population control. The issue has become emotionally charged in our community and I recognize that some of that is due to misinformation that has crept into conversations in print and social media.”

Soper publicly decried the Messenger’s use of the word “eradicate” in a headline for the last article on the subject. He claimed it had caused a storm of misinformation and was false because eradicate would mean to kill all the deer.

“Eradicate means total elimination,” Soper said. “Never has eradication been discussed or considered by this body.”

The plan that Soper introduced at the hearing instead plans to kill 100-150 of an urban deer population that is estimated to be as few as 200 or as many as 250.

The proposed method of urban deer control will be with live traps placed in problem areas identified within the city, or on private property with the owner’s consent. The traps will be baited, and upon catching a deer, Manti City animal control or public works staff will euthanize the animal.

The population control will only take place between August 1 and October 31 of each year. A tag will be issued upon euthanizing a deer, and a harvest record will be kept of all the deer lethally removed from the city. The plan expressly forbids the use of firearms in the process.

As the meeting was wrapping up, one of the final comments was from Louis Keller, a Manti resident who suggested, “We back off and put it on the ballot so everybody can participate.”

Soper told the public in attendance that the council would take all comments into consideration when making the decision, and even if the plan was passed, nothing would happen until August 2020.