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Utah Looks to Bowhunters to Help with Urban Mule Deer Problems

mule deer
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Utah bowhunters look to prove their skills by taking down mule deer in urban neighborhoods and parks.

Provo, Utah is now trying to come up with a way to help curb the population growth and drive them away from their city. They requested the help of the Department of Wildlife Resources(DWR) to begin developing a plan of action.

While a lot of people love to wake up in the early mornings to see deer strolling through their yards, they can become a serious issue in populated areas.

This is quickly becoming the case in a lot of the urban areas in Utah where mule deer populations are growing unchecked.

Their options were limited to either trapping and relocation, or hunting and harvesting the deer. Two other cities, Bountiful and Highland, have already tried both ways with varying success.

The city of Bountiful chose to trap and relocate the deer in their city. In two years they relocated almost 211 deer, but the cost was great at over $2,000 per mule deer.

Highland went the other direction with harvesting and has had amazing success with its carefully chosen bow hunters.

The Highland hunters were only asked to target small bucks, does, and older fawns. In their first year they harvested 80 mule deer and the following year they harvested 40 more.

mule deer
HeraldExtra

Thanks to their very rigorous selection process, they have not had one complaint, injury, or wounded deer escape. Every archer was handpicked by Brian Cook who owns Humphrey’s Archery in American Fork.

Jody Bates, the Highland City recorder said, “He handpicked the archers and put them through a test, and organized meetings. The program won’t work if you don’t have someone who can control it. This was a very positive experience.”

Part of their test was hitting very small targets from various distances. Every archer had to hit each target with 100% accuracy to possibly be one of the selected few to go hunt the deer.

The chosen archers were very clever when it came to making their way into places without drawing attention to themselves. One man walked into a Highland park wearing regular clothes while pushing a stroller that concealed his bow and arrows.

After he was out of sight, he pulled off the path behind a bush, threw on his camouflage hunting clothes, and began looking for deer.

The majority of the harvested meat was given to homeless shelters and families in need. This is giving the hunting option a lot more interest, as it helps the cities in two ways.

The city of Provo is taking the next year to plan and institute which option they will use. The Mayor said he will not approve either without the majority of his council agreeing one way or the other on the preferred method.

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Utah Looks to Bowhunters to Help with Urban Mule Deer Problems