Southern Oregon Town of Ashland Has an Ornery Deer Problem

deer young buck

The Southern Oregon town of Ashland is a quiet little hamlet where residents enjoy closeness with nature and an annual Shakespeare Festival. That proximity to nature is getting  a little too close, though, as the town’s developed a deer problem. 

The town’s resident deer population has gotten so bold over the years that some residents are calling for a culling. 

Even though the town does not have an exceptionally dense population of deer – there are roughly 300 deer in the 6.5 square mile town of 20,000 people – the deer that do roam the street seem especially terrifying.

The trouble is that people have treated the deer too well. A retirement community of nature lovers has led to some unruly behavior.

A recent town hall meeting to address the issue drew standing room only to the local city council chambers, reports Oregon Public Broadcasting. 

“They wait three feet outside of my car door. And the horn doesn’t drive them away. The car doesn’t drive them away. I have sat in my car 20 minutes, feeling intimidated and not wanting to get out of the car,” Ashland resident Leslie Gore.

One resident said the deers in Ashland use the crosswalks. Based on several witnesses, older women with dogs seem to be a prime target for does that apparently regard the animals as threats to their fawns.

Deer culling, the act of thinning the herd through a municipal-sanctioned killing spree, is something wildlife officials rarely evoke. Earlier this year a several northeast towns turned to deer culling, which sparked controversy.

Feeding or habituating wildlife leads to issues like these in other situations as well. Wild mountain goats on a trail in Washington had to be closed recently after the goats got too familiar with hikers and attacked several along the trail. And recently a deer in Vancouver that had become habituated was killed in traffic.

In Ashland, a vocal minority called for a culling while the vast majority preferred an altenrative method of controlling the situation and keeping people safe, such as sedating and relocating the deer or sterilizing the deer.

Photo credit: Dreamstime