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Catalina island deer-shooting plan is shelved, other solutions sought

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A proposed plan to shoot deer on Catalina Island to save native vegetation has been scrapped.  

The Catalina Island Conservancy had originally proposed the helicopter shooting of mule deer on the island because the animals are devouring native plants into extinction, making the island more vulnerable to wildfires as more fire-prone vegetation thrives.

The Los Angeles County Fish and Wildlife Commission on Wednesday announced the change of plans for the more than 1,770 mule deer on the island.

A representative from the Catalina Island Island Conservancy said there were concerns about the shooting plan from residents and Supervisor Janice Hahn.

"We are working on revising our plan to prioritize other methodologies," Lauren Dennhardt, senior director of conservation for the Catalina Island Conservancy, said.

Last month, Hahn, who represents Catalina Island, asked the conservancy to reconsider alternative solutions, such as relocating the deer, extending the deer hunting season to thin the herd, and sterilization.

"I heard from residents who were terrified at the thought of bullets raining down from helicopters over their beloved island and others who couldn't stand the thought of the deer carcasses that would be left in their wake," Hahn said.

There had been concerns from the conservancy that a newly restored native plant project would be in vain if the deer just continued to graze freely.

During Wednesday's meeting, Dennhardt said future plans will take time to develop, but in the meantime, a regular hunting season will take place this fall.

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