Urban Deer Disrupt Peaceful Small-Town Life

September 23, 2015: A Deer Summit meeting for the City of Ashland, Oregon was held “to hear individual people’s perspectives … and experiences on our situation on our deer herd…” The primary problem: the over abundance of “urban deer” causing quite a ruckus around town.

As increasing reports of dangerous interactions with deer occur, it has become evident that something must be done by public officials in order to remedy the issue.

The summit first and foremost took testimony from the citizenry of Ashland, with ideas ranging from educational films on how to handle deer encounters for Ashland youth, to simply taking up arms against the problematic deer and even deer-contraceptives.

Other’s provided testimony to dangerous encounters with the deer, such as Juliette Dottie, who told of two separate encounters with deer in which her and her dog were harassed by the animals and needed assistance in escaping. Both encounters occurred on the same day, and Dottie admits she has not taken her dog out since the event about three months ago. She among others suggested that the only solution to the issue was to kill the deer.

More sympathetic Ashlanders, however, disagree, including Mary Gabriel, who called the idea of hunting the deer “shameful to even consider.” She suggests more peaceful ways individuals can deal with the deer situation, including just letting the deer be and even moving away. Others with similar viewpoints like Midge Raymond,Wanda Nelson, Dee Perez and Sally Rose Sandler and many others suggest simply showing more respect towards the animals.

Some valid points were brought to the table, including that of Margie Mackenzie, as well as others, who discussed the larger issue of the predators that follow the deer, specifically cougars. This was later refuted by others with the concern that the deer population has indeed grown due to a lack of predators like cougars: that now the deer have nothing to fear.

However, there is one common variable among those who have claimed to have been attacked by the animals is that most all of them were with their dogs when incidents occur, as the deer view the dogs as predators.

Gary Fall also discussed the danger of the disease that deer can bring, such as Lyme disease. This factoid was supported by a nurse brought to speak on the disease for informational purposes, Judy Johnston, who, as an Ashland resident herself, stated that each year every deer hosts enough ticks on their body that can reproduce over “450,000 new larvae.”

The general consensus of the group was that the deer bring more harm than good.

The Wildlife Committee of Ashland spoke to the summit, and agreed with the thoughts of others present that the issue at hand is lack of education about the animals, humans who feed the animals and encourage their presence, and that many seemingly “simple fixes” suggested have much higher costs- in both time and money- that make them less viable solutions. As one woman put it, “we’ve welcomed into our community... and now it’s become a problem.”

The main topics of discussion was whether or not the deer presented a danger based on personal experience. As more citizens took the floor, it became apparent that no common consensus or credible solution would be made that night, although many presented thoughtful points and ideas.

After all was said and done, and the townspeople dispersed, one thought could be taken away from this Deer Summit meeting, and it is that thought John Yunker: “The one voice that is missing tonight is the deer!”

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