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Efforts underway to thin Helena's urban deer population

Mule Deer (MTN News file photo)
Posted at 9:06 AM, Dec 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-07 11:09:23-05

HELENA - People who have taken a walk through the neighborhoods of Helena recently may have been joined by some unintended walking partners.

With one of the biggest deer populations seen in Helena since the program’s inception, Helena Police Department has begun the months-long process of deer culling.

In October a survey was done of the area's urban deer population.

“The density per square mile coming back at 64 deer per square mile this year. And it, and the socially tolerable distance on the upper side, is 25 deer per square mile,” said Helena Police Chief Brett Petty.

It's also up from last year's estimate of around 40 deer per square mile.

To bring the population down traps will be set to capture deer and they will be killed. Based on this year's population estimate, the Helena Police Department and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks will remove 250 deer.

It’s among the highest number ever for the program.

Petty says this program is important for keeping the population within acceptable limits and limiting conflict between people and deer.

“I think it shows that there are a lot of deer coming in and out of the city limits. It just, it makes it tough for not only residents but vehicular traffic. And not only on the people but as the deer as well, you know, to freely move around,” said Petty.

While the deer will be killed, they won't go to waste. Any deer killed will be processed for meat and donated to Helena Food Share to provide food for the community.

The program will run from Dec. 5 to March 31.