UNION — Mayor Leonard Flint would like to know what Union residents want the city to do regarding its large deer population.

Nuisance deer can damage gardens and threaten people. During a city council work session Monday night, Flint proposed giving residents the chance to choose one of four options to deal with the deer:

• Take no action.

• Remove only deer causing problems.

• Remove all deer.

• Begin an education program to help residents learn how to best deal with deer so they are less of a hazard and a nuisance.

The mayor said there are a number of ways the city might survey residents regarding the options, such as including a survey with water bills or have surveyors directly ask residents which option they prefer.

Flint did not identify the method for removing deer and declined to elaborate further following the

meeting.

The removal options the city has are trapping and moving the animals or using lethal means, said Bruce Eddy, the East Region manager for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Eddy said on Tuesday the ODFW does not like to trap and move deer because they often quickly return. He also said relocating deer only makes them “someone else’s problem.”

Eddy said if the city were to use lethal means of removal, it would have to contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services unit.

Union’s city councilors neither voiced objections nor support of Flint’s proposal.

Union’s large deer population is a long-standing issue. Timothy Cox of Union told the city council at its Sept. 9 meeting he was concerned with how deer are becoming more bothersome. Cox urged the council to address the issue before someone is seriously injured. He said the deer had gotten worse since he and his family moved to Union two years ago, explaining deer are getting tamer.

Cox said once a doe was following his daughter and would not leave her until he drove his vehicle between them. On another occasion, he was riding his bike with the family’s dog when a deer began following him. Cox said the deer got within 10-15 feet of him. He said he had to toss a rock at it before it would leave.

Cox attended Monday’s work session and again encouraged the council to address the problem while mentioning he believes the deer put people at risk.

Community member Gary Graham expressed a differing view of the deer.

“We should learn to live with them,” he said.

He said one benefit of the presence of deer is they help reduce the speed of drivers in Union. Graham said deer have been better at slowing traffic in town than the council has.

Flint said he is not optimistic that Union will be able to ever successfully address its deer problem. The mayor said he has talked to people in cities who have lived with nuisance deer for 40-50 years. In many instances they have had little advice to offer, telling him only, “Good luck.”

Councilor Susan Hawkins voiced a similar feeling of pessimism. Hawkins said she believes even if every deer in Union was removed, “they will be back next year.”

Flint added the education option at the suggestion of City Administrator Doug Wiggins, who said people could be taught how to plant certain types of vegetation in their gardens to keep deer away. Flint added people could learn about the importance of not leaving foods such as apples in their yards because that attracts deer.

The mayor also said gauging public opinion about the deer will be a tricky process. If only 50 people return a survey, for example, he said, it wouldn’t mean the remainder of Union’s residents feel the same way.

“It is not an easily solvable issue,” Flint said.

They mayor said he believes deer will keep coming into Union as long as there are predators such as cougars and wolves in area forests, forcing them to move into town for safety.

UNION — Mayor Leonard Flint would like to know what Union residents want the city to do regarding its large deer population.

Nuisance deer can damage gardens and threaten people. During a city council work session Monday night, Flint proposed giving residents the chance to choose one of four options to deal with the deer. The mayor said there are a number of ways the city might survey residents regarding the options, such as including a survey with water bills or have surveyors directly ask residents which of the following they prefer:

  • Take no action.
  • Remove only deer causing problems. 
  • Remove all deer.
  • Begin an education program to help residents learn how to best deal with deer so they are less of a hazard and a nuisance.

Flint did not identify the method for removing deer and declined to elaborate further following the meeting.

The removal options the city has are trapping and moving the animals or using lethal means, said Bruce Eddy, the East Region manager for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Eddy said on Tuesday the ODFW does not like to trap and move deer because they often quickly return. He also said relocating deer only makes them “someones else’s problem.”

Eddy said if the city were to use lethal means of removal, it would have to contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services unit.

Union’s city councilors neither voiced objections nor support of Flint’s proposal.

Union’s large deer population is a long-standing issue. Timothy Cox of Union told the city council at its Sept. 9 meeting he was concerned with how deer are becoming more bothersome. Cox urged the council to address the issue before someone is seriously injured. He said the deer had gotten worse since he and his family moved to Union two years ago, explaining deer are getting tamer.

Cox said once a doe was following his daughter and would not leave her until he drove his vehicle between them. On another occasion, he was riding his bike with the family’s dog when a deer began following him. Cox said the deer got within 10-15 feet of him. He said he had to toss a rock at it before it would leave.

Cox attended Monday’s work session and again encouraged the council to address the problem while mentioning he believes the deer put people at risk.

Community member Gary Graham expressed a differing view of the deer.

“We should learn to live with them,” he said.

He said one benefit of the presence of deer is they help reduce the speed of drivers in Union. Graham said deer have been better at slowing traffic in town than the council has. 

Flint said he is not optimistic that Union will be able to ever successfully address its deer problem. The mayor said he has talked to people in cities that have lived with nuisance deer for 40-50 years. In many instances they have had little advice to offer, telling him only, “Good luck.”

Councilor Susan Hawkins voiced a similar feeling of pessimism. Hawkins said she believes even if every deer in Union was removed, “they will be back next year.”

Flint added the education option at the suggestion of City Administrator Doug Wiggins, who said people could be taught how to plant certain types of vegetation in their gardens to keep deer away. Flint added people could learn about the importance of not leaving foods such as apples in their yards because that attracts deer.

The mayor also said gauging public opinion about the deer will be a tricky process. If only 50 people return a survey, for example, he said, it wouldn't mean the remainder of Union’s residents feel the same way.

“It is not an easily solvable issue,” Flint said.

They mayor said he believes deer will keep coming into Union as long as there are predators such as cougars and wolves in area forests, forcing them to move into town for safety.

General assignment reporter

Beats include the communities of North Powder, Imbler, Island City and Union, education, Union County veterans programs and local history. Dick joined The Observer in 1983, first working as a sports and outdoors reporter.

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