Deer have always been a part of the urban landscape in Astoria. They walk through neighborhoods browsing on rose bushes and shrubbery on their way to watering holes along the river and the bay. Often the animals cross busy roadways bringing them into conflict with traffic at all hours of the day and night. Soon though those who decide to feed the deer will be on the wrong side of the law.
This year there seem to be more deer roaming the streets and the Astoria Council, responding to citizen concerns held a public hearing Tuesday and heard from Tillamook District Wildlife Biologist Herman Biederbeck about deer control. Biederbeck said that there is no easy solution.
He said that in some cases deer populations have been controlled using contraceptives by using a tranquilizing dart followed by injections of contraceptive drugs but he said that must be done frequently to remain effective. He said capturing deer for relocation doesn't work because deer are so naturally wary that they don't easily walk into a live trap. He said that the most effective means of protecting landscaping is to put up deer proof fence.
City code limits the height of fencing within city limits. Those who want to explore this option should contact the city planning department for specific regulations.
During a public hearing on the issue the the council heard from people not only concerned about deer but a number of citizens expressed different opinions on the stray cat population as well. City staff will come back to the council with an ordinance prohibiting feeding deer based on a 1984 ordinance that bans feeding pigeons. City Manager Paul Benoit said the pigeon ordinance is unusual in that it applies only to specific locations in Uniontown where the birds were flocking and that it remains legal to feed pigeons elsewhere in the city. The deer feeding ban will likely be enacted city-wide. Biederbeck commented that a feeding ban would help to prevent the deer from becoming further habituated to the city and even less fearful of human contact than many are now.
While Mayor Van Dusen agreed to allow public comment on the stray cats the council took no specific action nor gave any direction to city staff regarding the issue.