How to Deal with a Deer Invasion


My mother has a tough decision to make.  Her recent city newsletter informed her that the deer must die, and it’s up to her to decide how they croak.

Bountiful, Utah has a mule deer problem—they’ve invaded.  When I visited home this summer, I’d probably see at least one deer every week. They’d dart across the road as I drove home at night, snacking on good, god-fearing people’s rose bushes.  I even think I saw one on my own back patio, sprawled out on a lounge chair, sipping what appeared to be a daiquiri.  Personally, I always appreciate seeing a deer or two—even the ones who kept begging to borrow my blender and my copy of Jimmy Buffett’s Greatest Hits weren't all bad.  But not everyone in our small town shares my opinion.

The city of Bountiful recently decided that it’s received too many complaints about mule deer and something must be done.  The newsletter states its case:

 Over the past several years we have had an increasing number of complaints regarding the presence, and problems, associated with an increasing population of mule deer here in the Bountiful city limits.  Where the problem was once isolated to the foothills, streambeds, and canyons in Bountiful associated with deer migration, the current population of mule deer is made up of largely of “urban deer,” who do not migrate and who live in open spaces  found in the city.  Without natural predators and without the ability to  manage the deer population through the annual deer hunt (the discharge of all  firearms—guns or bows and arrows—is prohibited within the city limits), the urban deer population has increased significantly. 

The complaints the city receives mainly regard deer destroying flowers, trees and plants, chasing dogs, and defecating on lawns.  Clearly these deer are a rowdy bunch.  Further, Bountiful’s finest have had to “put down” a number of the deer after they have been hit by cars, impaled themselves on fences, or been chased by packs of dogs.

In a recent meeting to address Bountiful’s deer problem, city leaders met with officials from the Utah State Division of Wildlife Resources to figure out what to do.  They reviewed population control options, and in true democratic fashion inserted a survey into the monthly city newsletter, which goes out with everyone’s power bill.  Now, my mother and every other electricity-consuming citizen of Bountiful must give their opinion on the following:

  1.  If they believe Bountiful does in fact have a deer problem (but with a newsletter headline reading “Deer (in) Bountiful- We Have a Problem!, there might be some response bias.)
  2. If they believe something should be done to reduce the number of deer in Bountiful.
  3. And if they believe deer populations should be reduced, they can choose from the following methods: 1. No action. 2. Urban Archery Harvest. 3. Sharpshooter. 4. Other (please describe) ______________________
  4. And finally, if they will allow a certified sharp shooter onto their property to shoot a deer during the deer season.

Whether they’ll be taken out by bullet or arrow is anyone’s guess.  But one thing is certain, these deer have received the death penalty—they’re done for. 

My mother was a little disconcerted; we have a lovely family of deer in our backyard.  Yes, they are guilty of most of the charges brought against them—eating our roses, using our back yard as a bathroom, and driving my dog Benny into crazed hysterics when he sees them—but, come on, they add to the scenery and remind me that nature isn’t so far away; it’s right out my back door.  It’s always been nice to see them starting their day as I sip my morning coffee. (yes, coffee is legal in Utah).

To the deer: I suggest you migrate towards the mountains, and godspeed, because your time is short, and it probably won’t be sweet.  I can’t wait for the Saturday morning when my doorbell rings and I find a massive, bearded man, decked out in camouflage (a floating face really), with a .30-06 rifle slung across his back, standing on my doorstep. 

“Ummm, can I help you, sir?" I'll ask. "I have no valuables and all my money is tied up in bank accounts and the stock exchange.” 

“Don’t worry son," he'll respond. "I’m here to kill me a deer.  Can I borrow a ladder to get up on your roof?  I think I’m going to pick him off from up there.  Oh, and if you hear any moaning or screaming, or find large pools of blood on that patio of yours, don’t worry, I have the situation under control, I was certified in deer murderalization by this wonderful family-friendly community of ours.”