Montana Fish and Wildlife officials have voted on the Helena deer management plan. The plan approves urban deer culling inside of Helena city limits. Under the plan, the city must survey deer populations. The plan allows the culling of a maximum of two hundred and fifty deer during the year. However, the city usually removes around one hundred deer a year. The city has had a deer removal plan in place since 2008. Consequently, for the second year in a row city council members have stated they will not fund the plan.

“It would remain indefinitely so long as Helena did not change its management strategy,” FWP game management bureau chief Brian Wakeling said, adding that the commission would continue to approve the culling quotas.

The Creation of the Helena Deer Culling Plan

In the mid-2000s Helena had a deer density problem. Wildlife officials estimated that the city of Helena had a density of 33 deer per square mile. During the year of 2008, a joint task force of public servants and wildlife officials was created. The first goal was to lower deer densities down to around 25 deer per square mile. Deer related issues including vehicle-deer collisions, deer-pet confrontations, and human-deer interaction were all on the rise. Wildlife officials managed the culling and surveys while the city managed the plan financially. The plan was controversial when it was first passed. However, officials state that the program has been successful in reducing human-deer conflict.

Last year the city postponed the program due to budget cuts. The police department was ordered to complete more than $470,000 in budget cuts last year. The program costs around $30,000 annually. Helena Police Chief Steve Hagen said Thursday that the program is currently proposed for no funding again during the next fiscal year. Both Wakeling and Hagen stated that if the culling doesn’t continue deer-related conflicts will increase.

What are your thoughts on the approved urban deer culling? Does your state have something similar? Let us know in the comments.


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