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Fear the deer? Ashland looks to solve problem of 'aggressive' animals

Ellen Vorris Wednesday September 23, 2015    9:14 AM
Ashland has a big, bad deer problem.

Boisterous bucks and disorderly does are reportedly picking fights with residents in this southern Oregon city of nearly 21,000, stalking the mayor, chasing a family down the sidewalk and – in the rarest of instances – stampeding a senior citizen in her carport.

"I think it's a problem," Ashland Mayor John Stromberg said Monday, "and that's why I'm doing this."

"This" is Deer Summit 2015, a televised town hall scheduled for Wednesday. Residents and politicians will gather to discuss the city's No. 1 nuisance: "aggressive deer and what can be done about them."

Conflicts between wildlife and urbanites are nothing new. A black bear holed up next to a Tualatin elementary school several years ago. A Salem owl made national news earlier this year when it harassed park-goers. And complaints about deer – typically the docile sort, scorned for nibbling at garden plants – have been a near constant for decades in several southern Oregon cities.

But now the deer aren't just picking apart neighbors' backyards. They've become downright mean, in part because of Ashland's hospitable residents.

Normally, deer are scared of people. But nearly 300 miles south of Portland, at the base of the Siskiyou Mountains, generations of deer have roamed Ashland neighborhoods. Not isolated trails, mind you; they're regularly spotted on major roads leading to downtown.

People, in turn, have fed the animals, or allowed them to hang out care-free in backyards.

"Over the decades, people have not put the fear into the deer," said Mark Vargas, a wildlife biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. "When deer don't fear people, they come closer and don't look at them as a threat."

That's all pictures and postcards – right up until emboldened deer start getting spooked.

Does are known for defending their ... [Full Story]