State and federal officials will join in a three-year project to move some white-tailed deer from Morrow Mountain State Park in Stanly County to reservation land of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Officials say the project will take deer from Morrow Mountain, where the animal is abundant, to the Cherokee lands, where the deer population is low.
Cherokee officials say the white-tailed deer is an important part of the nation’s culture.
“These efforts will have lasting effects on our tribal community and on the region,” said Mitchell Hicks, principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation officials say 25 to 50 deer will be moved for each of the next three years. Most of the deer will be females, and officials say they will work to prevent breaking up families.
The deer will be tranquilized before being moved from Morrow Mountain State Park, which is about 50 miles east of Charlotte.
The deer will be kept in a pen on Cherokee property for about four weeks before being released into the 56,000-acre Qualla Boundary. Hunting is prohibited on that Cherokee land.
Carol Tingley, acting director of the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation, said, “Morrow Mountain State Park sustains an abundance of healthy native deer that can readily be identified and collected.”
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission conducted a herd study last year at the 4,742-acre park and said they believe moving some of the deer will help the habitat and remaining deer at Morrow Mountain.
Biologists from Great Smoky Mountains National Park also will participate in the project.
State and federal officials say the operation will also help them study deer behavior to help them maintain white-tailed deer populations in other areas.
Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle
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