The Message from the Mayor below was published as a letter to the Editor in the Ashland Daily Tidings on Thursday, July 29, 2010.
Do we have a deer problem in Ashland? While some people love the deer and others see them as a pest, the fact remains that deer attacks on people and pets, a deer jumping through a store window, and deer roaming downtown in the middle of the day constitute a "deer problem" for our community as far as Im concerned. The tough question is: what can we do about it?
No one has a corner on the answer. The first thing to understand is that wildlife, including deer, bear and cougar - even the ones who live in town - are under the jurisdiction of the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW). This means that managing the wildlife population in Ashland is not within the legal powers of City government. We have to work with ODFW, and we have to treat these animals like wildlife - not like pets or pests.
Although we cant solve the problem, the City can convene a gathering to connect Ashland residents with state officials to converse directly about solutions that are practical and, at the same time, consistent with community values. City officials are currently arranging this meeting, which will be widely publicized so all interested citizens can attend. We will support citizen efforts to lobby ODFW for realistic options and if a solution involves local ordinances the City will participate actively in that part of the process.
We also have requested help from ODFW with training and practical tips for citizens on how to live with wildlife in urban settings, for example deer fencing, bear-proof garbage cans and more. With their help and drawing on community resources, I am hopeful we can develop a common sense approach for Ashland that will reduce the conflicts between humans and our urban wildlife.
I am compiling a list of people interested in participating in the proposed meeting(s). If that includes you, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Stromberg, Mayor