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Hyde Park officials plan to combat urban deer population with traps

By Mekenna Malan

HYDE PARK — Hyde Park officials will be applying to the Division of Wildlife Resources to implement an urban deer control plan in the city.

Officials hope to gain permission to trap and harvest deer found in the yards of Hyde Park residents by installing metal traps throughout the city and euthanizing them after they are caught.

Urban deer eat the ornamental trees in the landscapes of Hyde Park landowners and are a driving hazard, said City Council member Charles Wheeler. He hopes there will be families ready to harvest the deer meat after trapping, so the practice isn’t wasteful.

“We plan to activate the traps only on a complaint basis,” Wheeler said. “If there is someone willing to harvest the meat, I have no problem with that. We would be taking care of a problem and someone would get some food. There’s a balance in that and it’s different than going out and thinning as many as we can.”

But resident Kevin Blotter has complained to the Council that most of the deer wandering in residential areas are mountain deer during the winter, and not the urban deer the city would be attempting to decrease.

“From Dec. 1 to Dec. 31, most deer in the city are of a migrating population,” he said. “The urban deer population peaks in the summer, but we can’t humanely trap deer in the summer because they overheat too easily. The mortality rate increases from 40 percent to 90 percent.”

When Mayor Bryan Cox brought the issue up with his youth council, he was surprised to find the majority of them were interested in harvesting the deer, he said.

“I don’t think they understood they would be taking the women and children, the does and the fawns,” Cox said. “But it’s a problem, and I don’t want to get the migratory deer. I want to get the resident deer that routinely cause damage in our yards.”

But the traps haven’t done the job next door in North Logan, says North Logan Police Chief Kim Hawkes. Hawkes said his city recently set up deer traps with mineral licks to reduce its deer population, but the traps have not made the impact they were hoping for.

“No matter what you decide to do, it might be years before you see an impact,” he said. “This is not a perfect fix, but it’s a beginning. It’s not going to be better all of a sudden or even next year. Down the line there might be a more perfect answer, but we are doing the best we can with what we have.”

Hyde Park plans to follow suit, Cox said. After a deer control application is sent to the Division of Wildlife Resources in the coming weeks, a public meeting will be announced to assess citizen input.

TP