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UPDATE: Bountiful Urban Deer Translocation

The Bountiful Urban Deer Translocation Project is headed by Channing Howard, Urban Wildlife Biologist with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. SFW is proud to have been the organization that proposed and initiated this pioneering project that is proving that translocating mule deer can be viable and indeed is successful. Many thanks to the SFW Beaver Utah Chapter for their foresight and initiative. SFW proudly stands at the DWR’s side and with its partner wildlife conservation organizations and higher education institutions as mule deer translocation research continues breaking new ground in wildlife management.

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Project background/goals: Mule deer populations have been under population objectives throughout much of Utah but in contrast, numbers have increased in urban and suburban areas. These resident urban deer create conflicts with humans including damaging landscaping and gardens, causing deer-vehicle collisions and are considered a general nuisance. Traditional urban deer management has included special public hunts or sharpshooters; however, these methods often have limited use within high-density municipalities due to firearm ordinances and perceptions about safety. As a result, Utah DWR, with USU, SFW and MDF, initiated a trap and translocate project to determine its efficacy as a potential management tool to reduce urban herds while supplementing declining wild herds.

Project goals include determining annual survival rate for deer at each release site and comparing with other translocation and survival studies; administering a survey questionnaire to determine public perceptions of urban deer pre-and post-treatment; assess the change in deer-vehicle collisions in the city; calculate the cost per deer using varied capture methods and assess body condition of captured urban deer. Cause of death will not be studied in this project, but other studies results will be taken into consideration.

November 13, 2014 – March 4, 2015
DWR with the help of SFW and its member volunteers trapped and relocated 211 mule deer from Bountiful, Utah.
• 100 adults fitted with radio collars (77 females) or ear tag transmitters (23 bucks)
– Trap site mortality 1.9% (4); transport mortality 0%

Release Sites
• Big Wash, Duchesne County
– 99 deer released in Big Wash
– 48 radio marked deer
• Raft River Mountains, Box Elder County
– 94 deer released in Raft River Mountains
– 52 radio marked deer
• East Canyon WMA, Morgan County (Not part of survival study)
– 14 deer released in East Canyon WMA

December 1, 2015 – February 18, 2016
DWR with the help of SFW and its member volunteers trapped and relocated 265 mule deer from Bountiful, Utah.
• 117 adults fitted with radio collars (77 does) or ear tag transmitters (23 males)
– Trap site mortality 2.6% (7); transport mortality 0.4% (1)

Release Sites
• Big Wash, Duchesne County
– 94 deer released in Big Wash
– 58 radio marked deer
• Raft River Mountains, Box Elder County
– 93 deer released in Raft River Mountains
– 59 radio marked deer
• Manti, Emery County (Not part of survival study)
– 69 deer released on the Manti
– 59 radio marked deer (10 with 3-month transmitters)
• East Canyon WMA, Morgan County (Not part of survival study)
– 2 deer released in East Canyon WMA (no radios)

Telemetry/Movements
• Raft River
– Deer have migrated back to winter range including some that summered in Idaho
– No tagged or radio collared deer reported harvested this year
• Big Wash
– Deer also making large movements and have been found north along Starvation Reservoir and just south of Roosevelt and west near Strawberry Reservoir
– Report of two deer harvested by a hunters near Roosevelt, including a doe that was in the extended archery area
• Deer will continue to be monitored up to two years post release

Sample Sizes and Fates for Bountiful Captures

Public Perception Survey
• Cross-sectional and longitudinal telephone survey of general attitudes towards deer, perceived problems and beliefs about management options
• 14 questions, added 15th in 2016 – Season of deer problems
• December 2014 – Pre-Translocation Survey
– 488 completed surveys
• November 2016 – Post-Translocation Survey
– 707 completed surveys
– 245 resampled
– 462 new respondents
• Damage to gardens and landscaping and vehicle collisions were viewed as the most serious problems caused by the deer.
• The majority of residents across sample groups believed trap and relocation was the most acceptable management solution.
• Compared to 2014, respondents to the 2016 survey provided weaker support for statements that there are too many deer in the city and that management action must be taken.

Capture Costs
• Created a template for cities to use to estimate costs
• Cost per deer most dependent on some fixed costs (ex: radio collars) and variable costs (ex: number of personnel and pay rate, miles to release site)
• First cost estimates for the Bountiful project FY2015 and FY2016
– $242-282 per deer

11-Month Apparent Survival Estimates for RR & BW Combined

• Adult females from all years tracking other Utah wild deer translocation projects
• Male survival lower possibly due to:
– Small sample size
– Different energetic needs
– Hunting allowed in study areas

Other Interesting Facts:
• All translocated urban deer tested for CWD returned negative results for all capture years and locations
– 214 CWD samples taken, no positives

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End of 2017 Season Update

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