Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks removed four mule deer bucks from an area on the west side of Helena after they acted aggressively towards a local teen that was preparing to deliver newspapers on Tuesday morning.
Warden Sergeant Mike Ottman said that one of the deer chased the young man and kept him at bay under a vehicle for almost twenty minutes. The wardens searched the area for the deer and when they were found, wardens killed the animals. The carcasses were field dressed and donated to social service organizations for food.
“These bucks are part of the population that has been born and raised here in Helena,” Ottman said. “They were going into the rut and so it’s not surprising they acted aggressively, as they will do in the wild.”
Wardens have removed other aggressive deer over the past year. “It’s simply a public safety issue,” Ottman said. “It’s certainly not the answer to the deer population issue here in town, but just a stop-gap means of dealing with individual deer that have become more than just a nuisance.”
FWP has seen a steady rise in the number of aggressive deer complaints over the past two years as the deer population grows in town. The animals, many of which have lived their entire lives in Helena, have begun to act in a territorial manner. Estimates of the urban deer population in Helena range between 300 and 400. Having such populations within the city limits creates unique issues because traditional management techniques, such as hunting, are out of the question.
The 2003 Montana Legislature passed legislation that authorized cities to work in cooperation with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to develop management plans and control wildlife within city limits.
“We’ve been working with both Helena City Police and the City Commission to try to come up with means of dealing with this issue,” said Michael Korn, Helena Area Coordinator for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “It’s a tough one. But until all the various entities can put something together in the way of long-term management, we’re going to respond to public safety situations such as occurred the other day by removing the animals.”
Warden Sergeant Ottman suggests that people keep in mind that even city deer are subject to nature and to be wary when around buck deer. “People don’t need to fear every deer walking around town. Just use good sense and judgment when you’re around them. If you encounter one that exhibits truly aggressive behavior, one that acts in a threatening manner, let us know.” Ottman added, “Although we will respond to specific public safety issues, we will not routinely remove deer from within the city limits that are simply living in town.”