Helena Police conducting annual deer survey

hpd deer survey
Posted at 6:35 PM, Oct 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-11 16:13:59-04

HELENA — If you have seen more and more deer in Helena over the years, you are not mistaken, it can be a problem for the city, and its residents. To help ensure a healthy population, the city counts the deer in October to develop a management plan for the winter months.

"A healthy number of deer per square mile per FWP is roughly 14 deer per square mile. In an urban environment like Helena last year, I believe, we were somewhere around 66 or 68 deer per square mile in just the city limits," said Helena Police Department Urban Wildlife Animal Control Officer Sean McCarthy.

Animal Control and the Helena Police Department are getting ready to document the estimated number of deer within city limits.

McCarthy says from his experience last year, this year's numbers look like they'll change.

"I do feel from traveling around this summer, our deer population is down slightly this year, so I'm not expecting to see as high a numbers," said McCarthy.

Keeping a healthy deer population is important. Fewer deer lessen the potential disease and conflicts with people, from collisions with cars to getting tangled in clotheslines.

"Once you have an animal, also that is too crowded in an area, they want to stay in town. They want to stay where it's safe, where there's food," said McCarthy.

To get an accurate count, animal control cruises a specific route around the city over six days.

"We're going to run the 11th, 12th and 13th. We start around 9:00 at night. We run till about two or three in the morning. We are in a marked vehicle this year. So if you see any other spotlighting, please do report it."

Last year, officials estimated that 250 deer needed to be killed to bring the population closer to a healthy level, but only 55 deer were captured and killed.

Deer that are killed through the program are donated to Helena Food Share and other programs.