The thought of snakes can illicit some squeamish responses. Snakes, often get a bad rap.

However, snakes play an important role in the functioning of local ecosystems.

Here are the three most common snakes residents are likely to encounter here in Eagle Mountain:

1-Great Basin rattle snake (Crotalus, lutosus).  These rattle snakes are common in the undeveloped areas of the city. Spotted in the foothills and valley floors, these snakes are general enough in their habitat and diet that they can make it most anywhere. The City receives reports of them on social media frequently. The most important thing you need to know is to give them space. They are not aggressive unless provoked and will usually try to slip away without any confrontation. 

It goes without saying, but rattle snakes are venomous and will bite if harassed or threatened. If a resident is bitten, it’s unlikely that person will die, but they should seek immediate medical attention.

Also be aware of where pets are while out enjoying the open space. It’s best in the spring, summer and fall to keep pets on a short leash if rattle snakes are known to be in the area. Dogs are more likely to encounter, and have a negative experience with, a rattle snake than a human. Be sure to know where the nearest veterinarian is who has anti-venom on hand. They are most active just before, and after, dark and like to shade up or go underground during the heat of the day. 

A large specimen may be close to 4-feet in length, but rarely exceed 3-feet. Their diet consists primarily of small mammals and rodents — mostly deer mice Peromyscus, maniculatus and Ord’s kangaroo rat Dipodomys, ordii. They go into hibernation during early fall and stay in their hibernaculum until early spring.

2—Great Basin gopher snake (Pituophis cateniferer). Also referred to as the blow snake due to the hissing/blowing sound they make when threatened. Many actually confuse these snakes with rattle snakes because they will coil up and shake their tail similarly to a rattle snake. 

These are a great snake to have around, to show kids and to teach dogs to be wary of snakes.  They are docile and have been known to eat rattle snakes. They are a great snake to have around the yard — especially if a residence is situated on the edge of the city as they also will take care of any rodent problems.

A large gopher snake can exceed 7-feet in length, but most are between 4 and 5-feet long. They may appear as a large scary snake, but are completely harmless. They do bite if threatened but are non-venomous. They prefer to eat small mammals, lizards and other snakes.  

3—Wandering garter snake (Thamnophis, elegans). Also known as a water snake. These are equally common throughout the city and are often found near wet areas, around homes, or areas that have open water.

These snakes, other than the smell, are completely harmless. A big adult garter snake can often exceed 3-feet, but are generally 18 to 24-inches long. They will sometimes feed on small mammals but are more likely to eat insects, small reptiles and amphibians. While they are harmless, they do excrete a milky/musky liquid that stinks and is hard to get rid of once on your skin.

There are several other species of snakes that have been found throughout the Great Basin. Some of these snakes exist in Eagle Mountain, although in low densities and are certainly less common than the three mentioned above. Here is a list of those snakes:

Uncommon snakes or snakes were likely once here in Cedar Valley. 

Western yellow-bellied racer (Coluber, constrictor mormon) These snakes become more common further south in the Great Basin. Like the name implies, they are one of the fastest snakes around.

Ringneck Snake (Diadophis, punctatis) They are likely more common the further south you go in the Great Basin, primarily southern Utah. They spend most of their time in the ground.  Once you see one, they are rarely miss ID’d as they have bright yellow to bright red under bellies. 

Night Snake (Hypsiglena torquata)—Found about 30-miles west of Cedar Valley just before the Nevada border. They have interesting eyes.

Long-nosed Snake (Rhinocheilus, lecontei) — The long-nosed and hog nose snakes are one of my favorites. These are another species that are completely docile but excrete a musky smell when threatened. If Eagle Mountain residents find one of these, please email

Did you know that all snakes are protected in Utah? As such, it is illegal to harm, harass, take, or keep them as pets. Anyone found doing so could be charged accordingly.

Saturday evening, Eagle Mountain City held its annual Silent Santa event.  

Each holiday season since 2018, Eagle Mountain City has held the event, which is tailored for families with individuals in their homes who have disabilities or sensory issues.  

The Silent Santa event provides residents with one-on-one interactions with Santa – no lines, loud music, or other distractions.  

“They meet Santa on their terms,” says Dawn Hancock, Events Manager for the City. “Sometimes, it is from afar just waving and sometimes there are up-close interactions. It is entirely up to the family’s comfort level.” 

Individuals who attend the event can also drop off a letter to Santa. Those who provide their name and mailing address will receive a letter from Santa in return.

The event is put on entirely by the City Events staff. According to Hancock, staffing is kept at a minimum to help with overstimulation and prevent the spread of germs to vulnerable individuals.  

This year, 35 families totaling 84 children got to meet with Santa, a number that has nearly doubled since last year’s event, according to Hancock.  

Like its fall counterpart, the Adaptive Trick-or-Treat, Eagle Mountain’s Silent Santa program is an award-winning program. In 2020, Silent Santa received the Outstanding Adaptive Programming award from the Utah Parks and Recreation Association (URPA) for its efforts toward inclusion.  

Hancock says the event would not be what it is today without the event’s volunteer Santa, Cory Maxson. 

“We give him all the information for the families before they enter,” says Hancock. “As soon as they walk into the room, he greets them by name and tries to make the families as comfortable as possible. Sometimes he whispers, sits on the floor, dances, or listens. He is excellent at reading the room and allowing the kids to direct the interaction.” 

Because they may not have severe disabilities or sensory issues, Hancock says many families may fear that registering for the event would take away an appointment from someone who may need it more. Hancock says that is not the case. 

“Please, register for the event,” she says. “We want to see you and your family and help alleviate holiday stress.” 

The Events staff will continue to add more Silent Santa appointments each year as the event grows, and residents who think their family may benefit from attending the event are encouraged to register. 

“This event is not for the masses but for those who attend, it is everything,” says Hancock.  

Silent Santa is held each December following the Christmas Village. Registration opens around mid-November.  

Eagle Mountain is a wild-urban interface.

The truth is, and this should be no surprise, the community has wild canids living within city limits. Likely, there’s an influx of migration and emigration of coyotes and red foxes moving through the city throughout the year. 

It’s important that residents are aware of these and, like any wildlife, stay clear and give them space. 

Eagle Mountain has three species of wild canids that call the city home. First, and likely the most common, is the red fox or Vulpes, vulpes. It’s debatable as to whether or not the red fox is native to Utah. The state does not consider them a native or protected species. They are not included in Utah’s Wildlife Action Plan

Given that they are not a protected species, they can be taken any time during the year. The red fox has benefited greatly with the urbanization of Utah and North America. They are very adaptable and proficient hunters and persist well in the wild-urban interface.

There are likely several mated pairs located within City limits. More exist closer to Utah Lake near Lehi and Saratoga Springs.

They typically become more visible during the fall and winter months as food sources become scarcer and their breeding season approaches. They can quickly expand their population where prey is available, and larger canids are absent.

It’s important to note, because many of our native small mammals and birds didn’t evolve alongside the red fox, that they can impact populations for certain wildlife and can cause localized extinctions.

In the early 2000s, the red fox was almost single-handedly responsible for low populations of the Greater sage-grouse around Strawberry Valley in Wasatch County.

Second, is the coyote or Canis latrans. While native to Utah and North America, the coyote is another non-protected species of wildlife in Utah not mentioned in the WAP.  

Coyotes are commonly observed within the city, and Eagle Mountain likely has several mated pairs that successfully raise pups each year.

The most important thing to know about coyotes is this: In the absence of hunting, and/or continual harassment of man, they become habituated quickly to the urban-wild interface and have no real fear of man. 

While they are exciting to see to some, and always make cool sounds during certain parts of the day, they can cause problems with human health and safety, as well as the safety of kids and pets. 

Coyotes can be very protective of their den — especially if residents venture into their denning territory with pets.

Just like the red fox, Coyotes will take advantage of left-out garbage, garbage in the trash bins, and dog or cat food left in the back yard. Once they find these sources of food, they will continue to use them and become less fearful of humans, dogs and loud noises.

Third is the kit fox or (Vulpes, macrotis). The kit fox is only about the size of a house cat; however, these are a protected species in Utah and more information can be gleaned about them from the WAP (pg. 275). 

What is known about the kit fox is that it is native, nocturnal, it is found in desert habitats in Utah and found in flat desert areas throughout the Great Basin ecoregion. They feed primarily on small rodents (deer mice Peromyscus, maniculatus and Ord’s kangaroo rat Dipodomys, ordii ) that are abundant in Cedar Valley. 

They likely have established dens in the city along major washes, or in the undeveloped areas to the south and west portions of the city.

Here’s the take-home message about wild canids in Eagle Mountain City. Like all wild animals, coyotes and foxes are still wild:

1-PLEASE do not go out of your way to feed them,

2-TRY to not leave your food garbage and or pet food around your house and especially don’t leave it out overnight,

3-DO NOT try to make friends with them and keep them as pets just because they are cute and cuddly.  Stay clear, give them space report any serious issues or problems to the city.  

Tuesday evening, Eagle Mountain City hosted its annual Children’s Day event. The event is an opportunity for parents and other loved ones to honor and remember children who have passed away.

Communities across the world honor Children’s Day by gathering to remember the lives of children at angel statues scattered throughout cemeteries across North America. 

The angel statues are inspired by Richard Paul Evans’ book, The Christmas Box, in which a young father learns the value of spending time with family from an old woman who lost her child at a young age. 

The first angel statue was erected at Salt Lake City Cemetery on Dec. 6, 1994, a year after The Christmas Box was published. 

The statue, which represents hope and healing for families who have lost young children, has since gained popularity and can now be found in more than 120 different areas, including Canada and Japan.

Eagle Mountain City has honored Children’s Day each year since 2019, when the angel statue was erected at Pony Express Memorial Cemetery. The angel sits at the center of the cemetery’s Angel Garden.

Families who attended the Children’s Day ceremony remembered their loved ones by writing messages on wooden angel tree ornaments and hanging them on the cemetery’s live Christmas tree. 

These messages are kept by the City Recorder’s Office and hung on the tree again each year, so families can revisit the messages to their loved ones year after year. 

Children who are buried in the Pony Express Memorial Cemetery also have their graves lit up with the “light of the angels,” special solar-powered lamps dedicated especially for children who have passed. 

The Children’s Day Ceremony culminated in the release of several floating paper lanterns, signifying hope and healing for mourning families and serving as a message of love for children who have passed. 

Eagle Mountain City hosts its Children’s Day Ceremony on Dec. 6 each year. In addition to the families of those buried at the cemetery, the public is also welcome to attend and honor their memories. 

Residents of Eagle Mountain have undoubtedly noticed the roundabout in City Center as well as the south entrance at City Hall, both with three large flagpoles. One flying the United States flag, one for the Utah state flag and one for the Eagle Mountain City flag.

Eagle Mountain City displays all three and keeps an eye on them for wear and tear so they can be properly replaced as needed. Wind and weather are factors in the durability of any flag.

All three flags are flown day and night, 365 days a year — sometimes at half-staff under Presidential Proclamation.

When the United States flag becomes worn and cannot be repaired, Eagle Mountain City returns them to the manufacturer for proper disposal.

The Utah state flag is currently undergoing a redesign.

While many designs were submitted by Utah citizens and groups, those have been winnowed down and modified to a final design choice by the Utah State Flag Task Force. The next step will be in the hands of the Utah State Legislature, which will consider approval of the design in a bill expected to be presented in the January 2023 legislative session.

This new design has elements representing the northern Utah mountains, the Utah state beehive logo, and an eight-pointed star — which represents Utah’s eight sovereign Native American tribes. The red stripe represents the red rock of southern Utah.

“When the new design is finally approved by the state legislature and it becomes time to replace the Utah state flags that fly here in Eagle Mountain, the City will recoup a little of the cost of those old flags by offering them for sale at a discount to the public, provided they are still in good condition,” says Jeff Weber, Eagle Mountain facilities operations director.

Eagle Mountain City flags have undergone a few design changes over the years, as the City logo has been updated. The City Recorder’s Office has kept one of each of these various designs for the purposes of record-keeping. Those designs will be on display at Eagle Mountain City Hall during the week of Flag Day 2023.

More information regarding this display will be provided on social media and the City website as the time gets closer.

There may be some who are unaware of the proper disposal of worn-out United States flags. They are not to be disposed of in the trash like an ordinary worn-out item.

Just as there is protocol for raising and flying the flag, there is also protocol for disposing of flags in a dignified manner, according to several federal laws. Many state and county government offices and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) posts have flag disposal boxes outside of their buildings. Police stations also collect them.

Once the disposal boxes are full, various organizations such as American Legions, VFWs, and the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts collect the flags and hold flag retirement ceremonies. The ceremonies are conducted in a specified manner to show honor and respect to the flag.

More information about United States flag retirement may be found at the U.S. Department of Defense website.

Eagle Mountain has partnered with the American Red Cross to organize community blood drives since 2014.

“Eagle Mountain City has been one of our constants,” says Anita Kay with the American Red Cross. “We can always count on them.”

Blood drives hosted by Eagle Mountain take place three to four times per year, and are always successful, says Kay.

But during a time of year where people generally feel more giving and are more willing to donate blood, the American Red Cross is seeing a decrease in donations.

“We’ve been trending toward less donors, but our need is still constant,” says Kay.

Kay says there is always a need for blood, but especially during the holiday season. Holiday travel increases the amount of accidents seen on the roads, which increases the need for blood donations.

“I think what people might not realize is that it is literally helping to save someone’s life,” explains Kay. “There’s going to be people that are sitting in the hospital during this holiday season that are going to depend on that gift.”

Even with the shortage of donations, Kay says she never worries about Eagle Mountain City’s blood drives.

“The people out there are just so good and willing,” says Kay. “The people that we work with have just been so supportive, so we really appreciate them.”

The blood drive will be held on Wednesday, December 21 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the City Council chambers at City Hall, 1650 E Stagecoach Run.

Each presenting donor will receive a long-sleeved American Red Cross t-shirt.

Residents should visit the American Red Cross webpage to make an appointment.

Residents have been able to submit issues with parks, roads, signs and graffiti to the City for several years. Now, Eagle Mountain City is enhancing that service.

“The Resident Portal has been a great tool to help residents and the City know where there are issues and how we can best resolve them,” said Eagle Mountain City Communications Manager Tyler Maffitt. “What we’re doing is making that process even easier while allowing the public to follow issues as we resolve them.”

With the launch of the new Resident Portal, Eagle Mountain City has improved the appearance and functionality of the service on its City website. It has also launched an upgraded City app, now available for Apple and soon on Android.

“We wanted something that was convenient for residents and that was also mobile. We’ve definitely accomplished that through some wise investments and considerable technology upgrades,” says Maffitt.

Residents will be able to access resources such as City information, contact their elected representatives and submit issues the City can resolve in a user-friendly manner.

Eagle Mountain City made the decision to upgrade its Resident Portal at the end of the 2021/22 Fiscal Year.

The City responds to thousands of resident requests every year by phone, email, social media and the Resident Portal.

“Being as responsive as we can is critical to the success of City government,” says Maffitt. “If we’re improving the level of service, residents can have confidence that their tax dollars are being used efficiently and that City employees are being held accountable for a high level of service.”

To implement the change, Eagle Mountain City has partnered with Austin, Texas-based RockSolid. The company has experience working with City governments of all sizes across the country.

Eagle Mountain City is open to feedback on upgrades to the Resident Portal. Users can submit their feedback using the website interface or the new City app.

“This should be seen as a step in the right direction,” says Maffitt. “We need to be doing the most we can to satisfy the needs of residents.”

Within the upgraded Resident Portal, Eagle Mountain citizens can view issues being handled around the city and within their neighborhood. By submitting an issue, residents can also track the responsiveness and the progress of the issue they’ve submitted to completion.

“The new Resident Portal is really dynamic, and we believe our residents will notice an immediate difference,” says Maffitt.

Access the new Resident Portal

Late summer, early fall and into the winter months is the time of year we see many of Utah’s summer migrant birds like the Swainson’s hawk, Bullocks oriole, barn swallow and western kingbird fly south to warmer latitudes. 

These birds are primarily insect eaters, and with colder temperatures, there just isn’t a food source to sustain them over the winter months. 

Some of these end up as far as South America. A study of the Swainson’s hawk in Utah, for example, found most of them ended up in Argentina during Utah’s winter.

When the summer migrant birds leave, it’s also the time of year when we will see some of the year-round resident birds migrate from the higher elevations down to the valley floor — a term called altitudinal migration.

These are rarely seen in the spring and summer months in Cedar Valley but are very common during the winter months.

The Dark-eyed junco, white-crowned sparrow, white-breasted nuthatch and the mountain chickadee are very common at winter feeders around Eagle Mountain.

If Utah has significant winters with heavy snow at further northern latitudes, Utah may even have common redpoll, black rosy finch, and grey crowned rosy finch, and snow buntings show up. 

All of these birds are primarily seed eaters and thus are looking for seeds to sustain them during the winter. 

With each snowstorm, seeds can be hard to find causing these birds to travel longer and longer distances to find a food source. If one can’t be found, these birds will eventually starve to death.  Fortunately, there are ways to help them survive the winter.

An important and great activity to participate in during the winter months is feeding birds in residential back yards. Feeding birds is a great source of food for them and allows many to stay over winter, travel and search less for a food source, and arguably allows their populations to increase among loss and fragmentation of habitat. 

Additionally, and maybe more importantly, this is a perfect opportunity to enjoy wildlife up close, and to introduce kids to wildlife and conservation.

As residents start this activity, it won’t take long to have these birds show up in numbers in back yards. 

If close attention is paid, residents will quickly realize how many different species Eagle Mountain has

There are several good internet sources out there to help residents get started in a bird feeding program. Homeowners may decide just to feed in the winter or feed year-round. They may keep it simple with just one feeder, or branch out and go crazy, having all sorts of feeders.

Here are couple of the better sites to help assist you getting started: 1-Wild About Utah, 2—USU/EXT, 3—UDWR

There are many businesses to help you get started as well. All the box stores; online; and bird specialty shops have feeders, food and some knowledge to help you. 

Overall, it’s simple. All a resident needs is a basic bird feeder and some bird seed. I personally like the black sunflower oil seeds—lots of fat and all birds seem to like them. 

There are thistle feeders that are made specifically for finches, feeders that don’t allow squirrels to steal your seed, suet (beef/pork fat) feeders make specifically for woodpeckers, of course there are hummingbird feeders.

If a resident just wants to get started, keep it simple. If you’re a long-time feeder, look at other types of feeders to try. Residents may be surprised what shows up. Once you’re hooked, you will want to enjoy these activities year-round.

The excitement of seeing live reindeer has been an event familiar to Eagle Mountain residents attending the City’s Christmas Village event held on the first Saturday in December.

Reindeer, also known as caribou, are not native to the area, but Utah does have a herd residing in Spanish Fork. There are currently seven in the herd – one male (bull) and six females (cows).

Five of those females are currently expecting young this coming spring.

Aurora Ventures, LLC is a family-owned business, owned by Matt and Elisha Shadle and their family.

“Having a live Christmas tree sales business, I wanted to add a new and interesting dimension by having live reindeer on the tree lot to bring in more business. That was back in 2001,” says Matt Shadle. “We rented some reindeer that year, but the following year we obtained one of the first USDA licenses for reindeer in the state of Utah and began obtaining the reindeer that now make up our very own herd.”

The Shadle family bring some of their reindeer herd to Eagle Mountain’s Christmas Village event each year.

Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) are members of the deer family. In Europe, they are called reindeer. In North America the animals are called caribou if they are wild and reindeer if they are domesticated.

Both male and female reindeer grow antlers, while in most other deer species, only the males have antlers.

Compared to their body size, reindeer have the largest and heaviest antlers of all living deer species. A male’s antlers can be up to 51 inches long, and a female’s antlers can reach 20 inches.

Unlike horns, antlers fall off and grow back larger each year. Male reindeer begin to grow antlers in February and female reindeer in May.

Both sexes finish growing their antlers at the same time but shed them at different times of the year. Males drop their antlers in November, leaving them without antlers until the following spring, while females keep their antlers through the winter until their calves are born in the spring.

Santa’s reindeer were first mentioned in 1821 when New York printer William Gilley published a 16-page booklet titled A New Year’s Present to the Little Ones from Five to Twelve, Part III by an anonymous author:

Old Santeclaus with much delight
His reindeer drives this frosty night.
O’er chimney tops, and tracks of snow,
To bring his yearly gifts to you.

Two years later, in 1823, the Troy Sentinel published the poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. The poem featured eight flying reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh, and for the first time, they are identified by name.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer began guiding Santa’s sleigh in 1939, when Robert L. May wrote the story of “the most famous reindeer of all” as a Christmas coloring book for his employer, the department store Montgomery Ward. The company gave away the coloring books as holiday gifts to children to entice their parents to visit and shop at the store.

In 1948, May’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made the story into a song. It was featured in a cartoon shown in movie theaters but wasn’t released as a stand-alone recording until 1949 when “The Singing Cowboy” Gene Autry recorded the song and its popularity soared. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is one of the biggest-selling Christmas songs of all time.

Eagle Mountain City encourages residents to stop by the Shadle family’s live reindeer display at Christmas Village.

The event will be held at Cory Wride Memorial Park on Saturday, Dec. 3 from Noon – 4 p.m.