Oregon town seeks solutions to droves of fearless deer

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 22, 2015 7:14 PM

By Shelby Sebens

PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) - A town in southern Oregon will hold a public meeting to discuss how to deal with droves of fearless deer that wander the streets, occasionally acting aggressively toward residents, state wildlife officials said on Tuesday.

The "Deer Summit 2015" will be chaired on Wednesday by Ashland Mayor John Stromberg as part of efforts to address deer that have stalked people, pawed at them with their hooves and even stomped on small dogs.

"The deer have no fear of humans," said Mark Vargas, District Wildlife Biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The confident deer are a product of a long tradition in the town of 21,000 people of feeding and befriending them, Vargas said.

For the last two or three decades, the black tailed deer have been known to roam into yards and stroll the downtown area of Ashland, which lies in the heavily forested foothills of the Siskiyou and Cascade Mountains.

"Deer just live there," Vargas said. "They live amongst all the people and when that happens there's going to be conflict."

Stromberg said on the city's website that he wants to hear from community members with ideas about what to do.

The mayor could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, but city officials have urged residents not to feed the deer, and to put up deer fencing or deer resistant plants. 

In a statement, the officials said a recent attack on a homeowner by a deer protecting its fawn was a reminder that locals share their community with all manner of wildlife.

"No matter how cute and seemingly domesticated, these are wild creatures.  Their behaviors are unpredictable," they said on the city's website.

Vargas said there is no easy solution. Giving the does birth control would be costly and ineffective, he said, and one would have to kill between 40 and 50 deer a year to have an impact that way. Trapping and moving them would just transfer the problem to another community, as the deer have become acclimated to city life, he said.

Vargas encourages people to stop feeding the deer and to yell or make loud noises if they enter their yard. 

"In reality we encourage folks, look don't feed the deer," he said. "They don't need food. They don't need water. If you can, don't even be friends with them."

(Reporting by Shelby Sebens; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Sandra Maler)