NORTH OGDEN — Jocilyn Oler remembers growing up, only seeing a handful of deer each season roaming her family-owned apple orchard.
But in the last seven years, Oler is seeing more and more each season. This year, she says 16 or 17 deer at a time roam her Fresh Off the Tree orchard, eating the fruit and rubbing their antlers against the trees.
Oler said she has had to replace between 75 and 100 trees in the last five years, resulting in lost yields, time and money.
Oler shared her concerns about deer overpopulation during Tuesday night's North Ogden City Council meeting, where residents and council members weighed in on three potential options for dealing with the city's deer problem: doing nothing, relocating the deer or hunting them.
Oler said she would prefer a lethal takedown option as opposed to a more-expensive relocation program which, according to North Ogden Mayor Brent Taylor, could cost the city between $100,000 and $200,000 depending on the size of the herd.
Oler even said she "would be willing to foot some of the bill to thin the herd."
During the meeting, Taylor shared the results of an informal Facebook poll where North Ogden residents offered input. According to the poll, 537 respondents preferred the city to take no action. Another 163 said they would prefer a lethal solution, while only one preferred a relocation program.
"If we pursue any program with the DWR there is the added cost, regardless of if it is lethal or non-lethal, that we have to have a study done," Taylor said.
In order to go forward with any deer management program, the Division of Wildlife Resources would have to measure the size of the herd as well as property damage and roadway safety issues caused by roaming deer.
In 2013, Highland worked with the DWR to implemented a pilot-program for the lethal removal of deer. After its two-year pilot, the Utah County city renewed the bow-hunting program as an official option for dealing with the deer population.
"It got to the point where (the deer) were ruining people's yards, people were hitting them on the highways, so it was beginning to be a danger and that's what instigated the pilot program," said Highland City Recorder JoD'Ann Bates.
Bates said the two-year pilot period removed 72 deer in its first year and 42 in its second year. Since implementing the program officially in 2015, the program has been able to remove another 37 deer, for a total of 161 deer since 2013.
"We feel in our city it has been fairly successful," Bates said.
Wes Alexander, Urban Deer Control program coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, said the program works under tight restrictions to ensure that hunters are rigorously trained to kill deer without harming surrounding property.
Alexander said the meat from the deer is donated. He also noted that because the program focuses on female deer, hunters are not prize-hunting for antlers.
In its first year, the Highland program yielded more than 5,500 pounds of venison, providing approximately 33,000 meals.2 comments on this story
When Highland began its hunting program, Bountiful began its own pilot-program with the DWR, opting to relocate the deer to less populated areas in Duchesne and Box Elder counties.
Bountiful reports that since 2014, their relocation program has been able to capture and release 610 deer.
Though the North Ogden City Council did not make any final decision on how to resolve the deer problem, Taylor said the city will begin looking at costs for a DWR study and seek their input on which option would work best.