HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Urban deer culling this fall and winter seasons was suspended by city officials in Montana amid budget cuts.

The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission recommended the city of Helena be allowed to continue culling despite budget cuts, The Helena Independent Record reported Tuesday.

Former Police Chief Troy McGee made the decision to cut the program when the department was ordered to make more than $470,000 in cuts, city officials said. The program costs the city about $30,000 a year, officials said.

The commission sets a quota range of up to 250 designated to maintain the population at desire levels and the city determines the exact number to cull each year within that range, officials said. This is the first fall and winter the city has not culled deer since 2008, officials said.

The city has plans to survey the deer population to determine if it will resume culling operations, Police Chief Steve Hagen said.

The program combats complaints about landscaping damage and vehicle collisions by trapping the deer in pens, dispatching and providing their meat to Helena Food Share, officials said.

The city has usually culled about 100 deer a year and populations have remained steady, officials said.

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