Two large bucks shared the Raider Stadium field during a youth football game Saturday, Aug. 29, startling onlookers, frightening some on the field and serving as fodder for social media video feeds.
The Pop Warner football jamboree was interrupted right in the middle of a game. Multiple videos of the incident show the bucks galloping up and down the length of the field, seemingly looking for a way out. More than 20 players, plus many more coaches, officials and onlookers were on the sidelines. Play was halted for the players' safety as the focus shifted towards the unexpected guests.
One of the videos shows an adult can throwing footballs at one of the bucks in an apparent attempt to steer him away from crowds. The two bucks did not collide with anyone and were able to remain controlled enough to find a clearing and jump the fence on the south side of the stadium. The crowd cheered at the end of the video once the two made it safely off the field and out of the complex.
A video of the two-buck backfield posted by Chris Martin of Talent on his Facebook page had more than 88,000 views as of Thursday afternoon. Barbara Mitchell posted a video entitled "Deer on Football Field" on YouTube, shot from the opposite side of the field from Martin's. Mitchell's video had 658 views as of Thursday afternoon.
A person behind the camera in one of the clips can be heard saying, “This could be dangerous,” and they are correct. Though not aggressive by nature, black tail deer that are native to southern Oregon have been known to become more territorial since urbanization has taken place in the Valley.
There has been at least one incident of a deer injuring an Ashland resident when they felt threatened. The sheer mass of the creatures has caused a lot of traffic hazards and property damage. According to the Wildlife Society Bulletin, deer account for $1 billion dollars in damages and 200 human fatalities in America annually.
The Ashland City Council has been trying to address the problem of urban deer for years. The city adjusted laws to allow fences up to 8 feet tall around yards in hopes of keeping them out. Still, a stroll through almost any neighborhood in Ashland will include a view of deer chomping away at plants.
A second law passed in 2012 made it illegal to purposely feed wild deer. Violations are punishable by fines up to $475. To date, the Ashland Police Department says that they can’t remember a single citation issued for a violation of the deer-feeding ordinance.
“I love the deer and think it’s awful how we don’t treat them with respect,” says Betsy DeGress. As an Ashland resident of 11 years, DeGress has seen the population of deer rise along with the town’s temper towards them. “People forget that they were here first,” said DeGrass, “but I know the population needs to be regulated since they don’t have any natural predators in town.”
Ashland freelance writer Eli Stillman is editor-in-chief of The Siskiyou, the student-produced Southern Oregon University newspaper. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @eliment13.