Living with Deer and Wildlife

Reminders of Best Practices 
• Learn your neighborhood. Be aware of any wildlife corridors or places where deer concentrate.
• Walk pets on a leash during the day.
• Keep pets indoors at during the night including dawn and dusk.
• Feed pets indoors.
• Don't leave food and garbage outside or use animal-proof garbage cans if necessary.
• Remove heavy brush from near the house.
• Install motion-activated light outdoors along walkways and driveways.
• Be more cautious at dawn and dusk when cougars are most active.
• Keep areas around bird feeders clean.
• Deer-proof your yard with nets, lights, fencing.
• Fence and shelter livestock. Move them to sheds or barns at night.
• Do not feed any wildlife. By attracting other wildlife, you may attract a cougar.
Who and When to Contact?
When to call? 
• If it’s an occurring event, same animal that can be monitored.
Who to call?
• For an occurring event?
ODFW: (503) 947-6000 
They can start monitoring the animal.
• When a resident has a wildlife encounter that endangers the safety?
ODFW: (503) 947-6000
Non-Emergency Police Line: (541) 488-2211
Typical Responses and Limits of ODFW:
• Catch/relocate options.
• Situations where they monitor the animal.
• Situations when they post notices or have the City do advance educational warning/outreach.
• Situations that require killing the animal.
What To Do When Encountering Wildlife?
• Don't intentionally feed deer. Deer that are familiar with people can become aggressive.
• Never, under any circumstance, approach a deer.
• Be especially cautious of deer with fawns. Mother deer are very protective of their young.
• Attacks by bucks are rare, but bucks may become aggressive in the "rut" season that runs October through December.
• Use caution when walking or driving in deer populated areas.
• Stay calm and stand your ground.
• Maintain direct eye contact.
• Do not run. Running triggers a chase response in cougars, which could lead to an attack.
• Raise your voice and speak firmly.
• Cougars often will retreat if given the opportunity. Leave the animal a way to escape.
• If the cougar seems aggressive, raise your arms to make yourself look larger and clap your hands.
• If in the very unusual event that a cougar attacks you, fight back with rocks, sticks, bear or pepper spray, tools or any items available.
• Don’t hike after dark and use a flashlight if you must go out at night.
• Leash dogs during walks. 
• Don’t camp or hike alone.
• Avoid trails with bear tracks or bear sign.
• Make noise when hiking so you don’t surprise a bear.
• If you see a bear, leave the area.
• Stay far away from cubs―mother is nearby.
• Consider carrying bear spray in areas known to have bears.

December 2015 Statement

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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