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CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — Wildlife officials in southern Oregon are warning the public to watch out for aggressive deer after several incidents, including one in which an Ashland woman was attacked, and another where a dog was killed in east Medford.
The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) said that it has gotten reports of aggressive deer in Ashland, east Medford, and Jacksonville — amounting to 15 reports since mid-June.
"At this time of year, black-tailed deer are raising their fawns, and will protect them against dogs or other perceived threats," the agency said. "Bucks are more likely to be aggressive during the rut in October-November, but can exhibit this behavior all year when they are being fed. Most recent complaints about aggressive deer involve does, but one report was about an aggressive buck."
ODFW said that feeding wildlife can cause them to become aggressive, since animals will generally avoid people unless coming to them for food. Deer will graze in the residential yards of neighborhoods like Ashland, and the agency said that some people feed them intentionally.
"People in Ashland tolerate deer eating their landscaping because they love having them around, until they start to get aggressive like they are now,” said Matthew Vargas, assistant district wildlife biologist. “The best way to keep them away is to not feed them. You can also spray a garden hose at them if they are in your yard — any kind of hazing that doesn’t actually harm them.”
Vargas said that dogs can also cause deer to become aggressive, particularly in does that are caring for their fawns.
"Dog owners might consider not walking their dog in areas where these deer problems are happening, at least for a few weeks, until fawns become more mobile and does less protective,” he said.
ODFW recommends residents in these areas take the following steps:
- Don’t approach deer. Keep your distance from them.
- Keep dogs on a leash.
- Don’t pick up fawns or get near them. Does are protective of fawns, and may also leave them alone for periods to go off and forage on their own.
- Don’t feed wildlife. It habituates them to people which makes them less afraid and more aggressive.
- Stay alert, especially at dawn and dusk. Be aware of your surroundings and areas where deer may be.
You can report any aggressive deer behavior to ODFW’s Central Point office at (541) 826-8774.