SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said Thursday it will quit removing deer from urban areas and relocating them in an effort to limit the spread of chronic wasting disease, a fatal contagious neurological disease that affects deer, elk and moose.
The disease has been spreading throughout many states across the United States. Currently, the disease has a low prevalence rate in Utah deer populations compared to neighboring states like Colorado and Wyoming.
According the wildlife coordinator Mike Wardle, the division’s urban deer program was launched in 2014 to give cities the option of capturing and relocating the deer or euthanizing them. Moving forward, deer will only be removed by lethal means.
“We started a pilot program for translocations and further research because of public request,” Wardle said in a statement. “The pilot was planned to last until we could establish the full cost and the survival rates compared to the risks associated with relocating deer from cities.”Comment on this story
After weighing the benefits and risks associated with the nonlethal removal option, the DWR made the decision to discontinue the translocation part of the program. Research also showed translocation efforts didn’t change public feedback regarding conflicts with urban deer.
The division also found the survival rate for relocated deer is 50 percent.
One upside, Wardle said, is that meat from deer that are removed lethally can be donated to local families in need. Meat from deer an area known to have chronic wasting disease would be tested before being donated.