The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted rules December 7, 2018, for cities that want to kill deer in urban areas on grounds they constitute a "public nuisance." Cities could already get permits to kill deer, but the issue has been handled in the past on a case-by-case basis. We agreed there should be a consistent set of rules but said they should include additional provisions to better protect the deer, including a narrower definition of “nuisance” and requirements to ensure killing is a last resort only after non-lethal methods have been exhausted.
In testimony and written comments to the Commission, we supported adoption of rules because they will at least provide consistency and transparency in addressing the issue. We also supported provisions requiring cities to first adopt an ordinance authorizing it to apply for kill permits, which means city residents will get notice and a chance to be heard first. We also supported a provision requiring cities to first adopt an ordinance that prohibits people from doing certain things that attract deer to urban areas in the first place (such as making food accessible).
However, we opposed other aspects of the rules - primarily a failure to adequately define when the deer can be deemed a "public nuisance." The definition used in the rules would allow even a small number of deer causing a small amount of damage to be called a nuisance. We also asked that the rules include other provisions to make killing a last resort, such as requiring more non-lethal deterrents and requiring cities to wait at least a year after adopting the ordinance to prohibit attractants before seeking a permit to kill deer. Our suggestions were not included in the adopted rules, but we will continue to follow this issue if and when it comes up in particular cities. We will also advocate for future changes in rules and statutes to better protect the deer.