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City of Helena starting deer count this week

Mule Deer Buck
Posted at 5:54 PM, Oct 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-05 12:15:53-04

HELENA — The City of Helena’s Urban Wildlife Program, which is run by the Helena Police Department (HPD), is returning after a two-year absence.

The purpose of the program is to manage the deer population in city limits to reduce conflicts with humans and pets, and decrease deer traffic collisions.

Starting the week of Oct. 4, HPD will be conducting a population survey of the deer within the City limits. The survey will be conducted during evening and night hours over several weeks in October.

Officers will be driving a pre-determined route in the city and shining spotlights to get an accurate count of the deer. The survey will be done in a black SUV that is marked with urban wildlife signs.

The City of Helena says counting will be done in commercial and residential neighborhoods and officers will do their best to avoid shining lights into houses and businesses.

The collected data will then be sent to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Park (FWP) biologists who will determine the deer per square miles through an established formula. The City may receive approval from FWP to remove deer from within the City to maintain a previously established population density of 25 deer per square mile. The 25 deer per square mile was established by Helena’s Urban Wildlife Task Force.

Once the population is determined, additional information will be provided to the community on what the next steps will be.

Helena Police began trapping deer in city limits in 2008 under the authority of Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP). The meat of the deer that have been dispatched and harvested in the past has gone to Helena Food Share.