A new state law could regulate urban deer

Ashland, Ore.-Oregon State Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 373. The bill officially goes into effect January 1st of 2018 and it could potentially change how the deer population is dealt with across the state.

Today NBC5 News was in Ashland where deer have caused issues in the past, to see how it could affect the community. Locals told us that deer tend not to shy away from humans.

And chances are, if you live in Southern Oregon you’ve seen them. It’s not unusual to see deer in the streets and even in yards.

Sometimes Lithia Park host Ty Johnson even sees them on the job; up above on higher trails, but typically not in playground areas. Johnson says that the deer he sees are are obviously comfortable around people.

“It’s not normal that they are that passive around humans.”

He thinks that sort of behavior may be something unique to deer in Ashland and other cities.

Urban deer are common in Southern Oregon. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says there’s a reason for that.

“You know you get people within the community that encourage those animals to be around. And you also have individuals living next door to them that don’t really like the idea of them being there,” Sam Dodenhoff, a wildlife biologist for ODFW, says.

When that’s the case, neighbors and cities now have an option. The new law opens the door to thinning urban deer populations. But before anything could happen cities would have to go through three steps.

First, they would have to ban people from feeding deer. Second, the city would have to declare the deer a nuisance. Finally, the city would have to petition the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to authorize ‘taking’ the deer.

If a city gets to the point where it’s been authorized to thin urban deer herds the animals have to be killed humanely and the meat has to go to local food banks.

In Ashland where deer are common Ty Johnson says the bill could be helpful with  re-establishing the natural order of self preservation that deer have around humans.

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