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Guest Opinion: Time to 'Blow away' Bambi?

Ashland has so many deer that any unfenced flower garden or yard is nightly ravaged and littered with deer poop. For years residents passively accepted the deer infestation or built unaesthetic 7-foot fences to limit deer foraging areas. Neighborhoods are now filled with 7-foot deer screens with more built all the time.

Years ago when the deer problem was brought to the City Council, the council ordered a census. When the numbers were presented, the council opted to not yet ask the state to lessen or stabilize the deer population.

Whatever that census was, it increased. Now deer are everywhere. And some deer are so accustomed to vehicles they wander about oblivious to traffic. That will cause collisions as people increasingly brake for deer crossing our streets.

Ashland’s deer don’t seem afraid of humans, which will likely cause more injuries. And future rutting seasons are likely to be quite exciting as male deer lock antlers in our yards and streets. Plus, at some point we will have a tick infestation, if we don’t already.

Thus, it now seems appropriate that the council ask the state to limit the municipal deer population. So as to not minimize the council’s task and responsibility, let’s say that the council has to decide if it is ready to “blow away Bambi.” In other words, will it request that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife contract with hunters on an ongoing basis to harvest, kill, shoot, cull, exterminate, limit, reduce, slaughter, execute, purge, erase or eliminate many of the town’s “Bambis?” Or can it request that deer be tranquilized and removed, likely a futile exercise?

A frequent response from Bambi-lovers is that the deer were here thousands of years before man, and therefore we lack the right to judge or take action on their numbers.

But a time retrograde shows this area also featured saber-toothed tigers, mountain lions, packs of wolves and bears to keep the deer population stable. Those predators are gone from Ashland, and with all the Fidos, Rovers, Fluffys and Muffys, which would also be their food, it is unlikely residents would welcome a return of major predators within city limits.

When people did arrive here perhaps 15,000 years ago, we know they hunted deer, and now so should we. The Ashland City Council needs to decide on an optimum deer population and start to solve the problem by asking the state to license bow hunters to hunt on public property at the city’s fringes in early morning hours to maintain that population. Licensing hunters would be cheap, more so than some kind of birth control program. And again hunting shouldn’t occur within the city’s core unless the deer population within the city limits doesn't decline.

But the most important thing to remember for those who want to do nothing is that deer have been aggressive. There is danger. The fears and concerns people have are real and not to be dismissed. Plus, we will have a tick and Lyme disease problem if we don’t act to reduce the deer population. And now that we have public testimony from many about the physical threat they feel from the deer, the city of Ashland likely has no choice but try to limit their population.

We’d do just fine with one-fourth the deer we now have. Yes, the council should demand that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife “blow away Bambi.”

Brent Thompson lives in Ashland.