When one travels along Utah County roads and passes private yards, it looks as if it's open season on the local deer population. Two major problem areas are at the mouths of Provo Canyon and Spanish Fork Canyon.
"So far we figure about 60 head of deer have been killed," said Sgt. Fran Fillmore of the Orem Traffic Division. "Our worst area is between Sixth East and Fourteenth East along Eighth North. Eleven head of deer were killed in one weekend, and last Thursday alone we had seven."Paul Tervort, regional game manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources, said that over the weekend 13 residents reported dead deer in their yards.
Tervort said that although it isn't uncommon for deer to come down out of the mountains to feed during the winter months, this year they seem to have come down farther and earlier.
"We noticed that they came in earlier this year," he said. "We think the cause may be possibly the drought conditions last summer. We have had a much higher incidence of road kill this year."
With so many deer falling by the wayside from starvation, freezing temperatures or unsuspecting motorists, Wildlife Resources faces the problem of collecting the animal carcasses.
Tervort said Wildlife Resources will respond to homes where citizens report dead deer. For deer killed on roads, individual police agencies will contact Wildlife Resources, which has contracted with a local firm to clean up the roads.
The problem, according to several agencies, is that the deer are stacking up faster than they can be removed.
Motorists should watch for deer in residential areas and should be aware that the situation is especially dangerous along Eighth North in Orem and up Spanish Fork Canyon.
Fillmore said that cars generally sustain between $800 and $1,000 worth of damage to headlights and grillwork when they hit a deer. However, there are very few incidents of personal injury.
"We ask motorists to be aware, particularly the hour before dusk until about midnight, and then in the early morning hours when the deer are retracing their steps," Fillmore said. "They should also beware that a deer will wait for the first car to pass and then, thinking it's safe, will jump in front of the second one."
Tervort said it is illegal to take deer for personal use, because the law stipulates that carcasses must be tagged or have a disposal slip. Citizens are also cautioned about feeding the deer, since this will condition them to return next winter.