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Don't close the door

More than a year ago, when the Legislature passed a bill to create a program allowing cities to kill urban deer, Mayor John Stromberg declared flatly that euthanizing deer wouldn’t work, and that city residents would never stand for it. State Rep. Pam Marsh suggested at the time that the discussion would be “huge,” and city residents would probably decide against it, but the option should be debated and decided by the community.

On Friday, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife adopted rules allowing cities the option of euthanizing urban deer to reduce their population starting in January.

Once again, Stromberg dismissed the idea out of hand. The notion would be “a very potentially upsetting issue” in Ashland, he said, and other options should be explored. He didn’t say what those other options were, but something clearly needs to be done.

Not only are deer a nuisance, consuming residents’ gardens and landscaping and wandering into traffic, but they are a safety issue, in some cases attacking people and dogs. Recently, cougars have ventured into town in pursuit of easy meals, causing fear and alarm among residents.

The new state rules require cities to seek approval from residents before joining the program, and prohibit the feeding of deer, which Ashland already does.

It’s entirely possible Ashlanders would reject the idea of culling the urban herd through lethal means. But doing nothing will virtually guarantee the problem will continue and probably get worse. Ruling out any option without discussion seems short-sighted.

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