The project is aimed at augmenting the reservation’s sparse population of white-tailed deer, an animal that figures prominently in Cherokee lore and cultural traditions. Morrow Mountain, meanwhile, has a healthy and abundant deer population.
Cherokee Principal Chief Michell Hicks said protecting the environment and natural resources — including the restoration of native species — have been a priority for his administration.
“The white-tailed deer restoration continues this important tribal work and demonstrates the tribe’s commitment to work with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources in collaboration. These efforts will have lasting effects on our tribal community and on the region,” Hicks said.
The relocation project will provide insight on white-tailed deer health and best practices for rebuilding and sustaining healthy herds. It is a cooperative effort by the North Carolina state parks system, state wildlife agencies, biologists from Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee Fisheries and Wildlife Management program.
The deer will be kept in a large pen and closely monitored for about four weeks before being released onto protected lands on the reservation that have prime foraging habitat.