The City of Ashland, OR, is now considering a deer culling program. If you’ve been in or near Ashland lately, you know there are many deer in and around town, as there are throughout southern Oregon. Ashland particularly has become a Mecca for deer: there are few predators in town, there is lots of food in for deer with all the greenery, plants and shrubs in town, there is water, shade, and places to hide and bed down. For deer, as for many people, Ashland is perfect.
Lately, however, there is a groundswell of negativity toward deer and many citizens want them eliminated. As an advocate for animals, of course, this upsets me, and it’s totally wrong-headed. The “culling” program being considered will kill deer. Killing them is cruel, unnecessary, and will prove ineffective in managing deer-human conflicts. The deer that are killed will simply create space for more deer to move in, and they will. Deer are opportunists that way.
Deer eat landscaping.
Deer are foragers and face it, your landscaping is delicious. If deer see yummy food and they’re hungry, they’ll eat it. If you don’t want deer in your yard, then erect deer proof fences or plant deer-resistant plants.
Deer attack people and are dangerous.
Every year it seems there is news of someone being “attacked” by a deer. Almost always, these “attacks” are in fact caused by a human. I’ve seen people in Lithia Park walk right up into a deer’s face to get a photo. I even saw one idiot try taking a selfie with a buck. Ok, that’s just stupid. Deer are wild animals and do not want to pose for your photo or have you get too close to them. When you are too close, deer sense danger and they try to protect themselves. That’s what they should do. You should not get too close. Keep your distance and everything will be fine.
Moreover, this time of year we see does with fawns. Does are good moms and are protective of their babies. If dogs or people approach their babies, does will act to protect the fawns. Again, this is easy to fix: keep your dogs on a leash and don’t let them go near deer. Keep your distance from does and fawns. Even if you see a fawn lying alone somewhere, leave it alone. It has not likely been abandoned. Does leave fawns asleep and hidden while mom goes off to feed. She will come back and reclaim her baby, and she is likely nearby keeping watch. Do not bother fawns, even if they seem to be alone. Really. They’re fine. Leave them alone.
Here’s the thing: we can change our behavior to reduce or eliminate conflicts with deer. Wildlife can’t change. It’s up to us to make the effort to coexist with wildlife. Instead of killing deer, the City of Ashland should work on educating people and erecting signage to help people learn to live alongside deer.
The City of Ashland will be holding public comment periods on deer culling around the end of August. Let’s make sure we stand up for deer and speak against a killing program. Education and peaceful coexistence should be the goal – not slaughter.