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Heber City Council to consider deer culling, meat donation program to curb overpopulation

[STOCK IMAGE] Elected leaders in Heber City government said the city has a problem with deer overpopulation, especially when deer are born in town.
Kat King
Adobe Stock
[STOCK IMAGE] Elected leaders in Heber City government said the city has a problem with deer overpopulation, especially when deer are born in town.

The Heber City Council is considering a proposal to euthanize deer in the city limits and harvest the meat for food banks.

A Heber City councilmember pitched an idea to clean up the streets by thinning its deer population.

Councilmember Scott Phillips said the deer that come down from the mountains into town during the winter aren’t the problem.

“This is the summer deer, the deer that live here all year round, that don't go back up into the mountains like they're supposed to,” he said. “We are having deer that are being born in the city limits, and they feel like this is their home. And it's really becoming an issue.”

He offered to reach out to the Utah Department of Natural Resources, which has a program to cull deer in cities and harvest their meat to donate to food banks.

The council didn’t take action, but shared mixed opinions about what it could do in future summers.

“I don't want to kill Bambi’s mom. I'm just saying,” Councilmember Yvonne Barney said.

Mayor Heidi Franco suggested they look into costs and how the city would partner with state wildlife offices. She also said the idea could bring unforeseen side effects.

“We need to know where DNR would do their work,” Franco said. “I'm just saying people are not going to like to see the deer being killed right in their neighborhood.”

Phillips said he didn’t believe DNR workers would kill the deer in front of people’s homes.

Other councilmembers including Mike Johnston agreed they wanted to do a bit more research into the program.

“It wasn't last winner, it was the winter before,” Johnston said, “I counted deer, after dead deer, after dead deer, after dead deer on the sides of our roads. You could go up Center Street, and there was like 15 dead deer up that street, and Highway 40 was littered with dead deer, and we had three dead deer just in our couple homes right there.”

Councilmember Rachel Kahler brought up a resident complaint about deer regularly destroying his garden. She also said local food banks need more meat, especially for the holidays.

Phillips said he would bring someone from the DNR to a future council meeting. The council will decide later if it wants to pursue the plan, which wouldn’t take place until August 2024 at the earliest.

A recording of the meeting is available at heberut.gov.