HELENA – The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission gave tentative approval Thursday to allow an additional 150 mule deer to be killed in Helena between November 13 and March 31.
As part of its proposal, Helena officials promised to further monitor the urban deer population and to look at the effects of a previous effort that removed 200 deer from the city. They also will tally how many deer live in the city and determine what the human tolerance is for them.
Some of Helena’s 30,000 residents like the animals’ presence but others complain about property damage, traffic obstruction and risk to people and pets.
FWP commissioners praised the initial effort. But they also are concerned that two breeding seasons have taken place since the initial removal goal of 350 was requested two years ago.
“We have had two fawn crops since then, and my question is whether we are keeping up,” Commissioner Bob Ream said. “The goal was 25 deer per square mile. Are we anywhere near that?”
Quentin Kujala, FWP wildlife management bureau chief, said that question is at the center of the newest attempt to bring Helena’s deer to a level that balances the population with public safety issues.
“We need another survey to look at the deer census and … see what was the population’s response. Were we right or wrong in our extrapolations?” he said.
The commission will take public comment on the plan before it makes its final decision Nov. 12.
Meat from the deer is donated to a Helena food bank.
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