Living with Deer and Wildlife

December 2015

Deer Sterilization
Ashland citizens have asked about the possibility of sterilizing deer to reduce the deer population in Ashland and one resident specifically referenced the use of salt licks to make deer sterile.
The following information was provided by Professor Michael Parker of SOU Biology Program:

“There is no such birth control deliverable by salt lick.  And, even if there were such a thing, the city would essentially be broadcasting a potent hormonal regulator that would be taken up by any animal attracted to the salt lick, not just the deer.  This is the same reason birth-control laden corn, or any other attractant shouldn't be considered. I think, unfortunately, there is a misconception that just because we have oral birth control for humans, there should be such a thing for other animals as well. There has been some research done in this area, but nothing remotely suggests that there will be a solution for an urban deer problem any time soon (if ever).”

The following information was provided by Mark Vargas of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“Sterilization techniques are always the ones that many folks like to see happen, but like we have discussed in the past most contraception attempts for deer that have some level of success are from gated communities or “islands” where the deer cannot migrate. In addition, usually the deer population is small, 50 deer or less. There are basically two main types of contraceptive drugs used for wildlife, GonaCon and SpayVac, these sometimes work when injected into the animals. Oral administration is still experimental and minimally looked favorably upon. One of the main concerns with oral contraception is that non-target mammals can ingest the drug, thus potentially causing other issues with sterilization and health of these animals or populations.
I still maintain that this type of management action will not be prudent. Ashland has hundreds of deer and miles of access to public lands with even more deer available for migration. We continue to get numerous phone calls regarding deer in Ashland, and we continue to try and educate folks on human safety, damage and nuisance control.
Here are two articles with information that may be helpful."​

For information on living with deer, please read the Living With Urban Deer brochure.

A previous well-publicized attack on an Ashland homeowner by a deer protecting its fawn serves as a reminder that we share our community with all manner of wildlife. No matter how cute and seemingly domesticated, these are wild creatures. Their behaviors are unpredictable.
Don’t feed wildlife! Feeding can attract wild animals and their predators. It also causes wild animals to lose their fear of humans.
Homeowners can protect yards and gardens by installing deer fencing, using deer-resistant plants (more info at this link: and using non-toxic repellent sprays for plants.
Unfortunately, the City is severely constrained in its ability to address the deer problem.  In Oregon, the management of deer populations is the exclusive purview of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Ashland for its part has done what we are legally permitted to do by adopting an ordinance that prohibits the feeding of deer and allowing property owners to construct 8-foot high deer fencing. ODFW also offers advice about living with deer and other wildlife at this link:  

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