Date of Award:

12-2018

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Wildland Resources

Advisor/Chair:

David N. Koons

Abstract

An increase in urbanization in the United States has led to an increase in human-wildlife interactions with deer (Odocoileus spp.) which have been able to adapt and thrive in these urban environments. In Utah, urbanization has occurred along the Wasatch Front which was once traditional mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) winter range habitat. This urban expansion coupled with an increasing use of these urban areas by mule deer, have led to increasing conflicts with deer. Overabundant urban deer have led to increased concerns over safety from deer-vehicle collisions, and damage to personal property including gardens and landscaping. Lethal methods of urban deer control, such as controlled hunting or sharpshooting have proven prohibitive due to perceptions of safety or local ordinance prohibiting discharge of weapons. Managers have thus begun to investigate translocation as an alternative method of reducing deer and deer related problems.

I evaluated the efficacy of translocation by determining factors influencing the survival of translocated urban mule deer, reporting the costs per deer of translocation, and determining change in public attitudes toward urban deer after 2 years of removing deer via translocation. Results indicate that translocated urban deer survival is reduced by age and injuries, and that male survival is much lower than that of females, however survival was higher among deer that made it into the second year post-release. Overall survival of translocated urban deer is still lower than the average statewide survival for wild mule deer in Utah. Public perception of the amount of deer decreased slightly after 2 years of deer removals and attitudes were influenced by the severity of damage to gardens and landscaping.

This research can provide managers with information on the hazards influencing survival of translocated urban mule deer as well as the costs associated with implementing and maintaining a translocation program to mitigate urban mule deer problems. It can also provide managers with information on the social impacts such a program has on the attitudes and perceptions of urban deer.

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