Oct. 12, 2019 — The possibility of an overabundance of deer was discussed at the Dunes City Council meeting Wednesday night, with the question of declaring the animals a public nuisance being put before the council. While the council did not make a final decision on the matter, the discussion brought up the possibility of allowing the state to intervene and cull Dunes City deer.
Also discussed in the meeting were issues with unpermitted construction sites, and the annual water meter reading being conducted by the city.
Dunes City’s problems with a growing deer population have been long standing, with multiple complaints from residents throughout the years. Earlier this year, the council passed an ordinance that made feeding wild animals illegal in hopes to discourage the population, but for one local resident, the deer didn’t seem to take the hint.
“There’s a male deer that seems to have a thing for her,” Dune city Administrator Jamie Mills told the council. “She has a brand-new wrought iron fence, and this male deer squeezed through it, bent the bars out, and parked himself on the front porch. She has to step over him to get to work in the morning.”
The first time the resident had a run-in with the deer was in her car, with the deer sitting in the middle of the street. The resident inched closer and closer to the deer in hopes of scaring it away, but the deer still remained.
“Finally, as she got close, the deer got up and jammed the side of her car. Now she has this dent in her door. … I know the deer she’s talking about, I call him Spike,” Mills said.
One resident did a walk-through of the neighborhood and reportedly saw 60 deer. The resident ended up calling the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), who said that if the city declared the deer a nuisance, they would come over and “do something about it.”
This was the question put before the council on Wednesday night — should Dunes City declare the deer a public nuisance?
“Will this mean they will thin the population, or just get rid of this one deer?” Councilor Bob Orr asked.
“I think it’s thin the population,” Mills replied.
“Is there another option?” asked Orr. “Like many residents in this neighborhood, I’m not in favor of killing wildlife. Can they be relocated?”
Councilor Sheldon Meyer stated that the information the city had received from ODFW stated relocation is not a valid option.
“It’s the same with trapping bears. They euthanize them because they’ll just come back, or become a nuisance where they end up. I’m not wild about that option either,” he said.
But Meyer has had his own run ins with the deer. This past week a deer ate all of his plants resting on his front porch. He put bungee cords across every single entrance, along with sturdy chairs, “but somehow they still come through. A BB in the butt doesn’t seem to have much impact,” he added.
Councilor Susan Snow also had some run ins with the deer, adding later in the meeting, “We did some landscaping, and the deer must not have liked it. They came in and had a dance party over everything we just did.”
“Is this going to be a massive cleaning out, or just a few?” Orr asked Mills.
At that point, Dunes City Planning Secretary Rapunzel Oberholtzer read ODFW guidelines on the process: “If the city has an ordinance declaring the deer a nuisance, ODFW will conduct a study to determine how many deer should be culled from the area, and implement the control plan.”
The council was hesitant at the prospect of having ODFW exact a mass culling, and was unsure if the number of deer warranted such an action.
“I haven’t seen as many as this lady says,” Snow said. “I don’t think there’s that many around.”
Mills stated that ever since Spike’s actions were brought to her attention, she had only seen two other deer. However, before the complaint, she once had 16 deer visit her front lawn.
“I will say that there is one person in that neighborhood, when I saw that he feeds the deer on a regular basis, I pulled him aside and told him it is now illegal to do that in Dunes City, and I will fine him,” Mills said. “I have pictures of him with deer eating out of his hand. He told me, ‘If I want to feed them, I’ll feed them.’ I don’t know if he’s still doing it or not.”
Meyer advised, “I think we should table this to give us a chance to think this through.”
Orr was more comfortable with that idea, with Councilor Duke Wells stating that the delay in the decision would give the city a chance to get out into the community and see what issues people were having with deer. However, “People need measures to protect their property,” he said.
Mills will also request a representative from ODFW to come and speak to the council on the process of culling the deer.
After the discourse on the deer, Mills discussed one of the larger issues facing the city in the past month: numerous contractors and homeowners doing construction work without permits.
“I want to ensure everyone is aware that before there’s a ground disturbance of any kind in Dunes City, you must come to Dunes City, discuss the project, and let us make sure you’re not within a shoreline zone, you’re not anywhere near water drainage or with slopes that require engineering before you do any work at all,” Mills said.
The issue created a controversy during the last city council meeting, where one resident issued a complaint against their neighbor, who was doing construction on their site. The construction project had built up a slope of dirt that the resident feared would create a slide, putting their home and family’s lives in danger. The city has since put a hold on the construction and is working with both parties to ensure safety, but it brought up the larger issue of doing construction without a permit.
“Most of the time, a permit will not be required, but if there’s more than 4,000 square feet disturbed for anything other than a garden, you need to speak with us.”
Mills pointed out that 4,000 square feet is less than 65 by 65 feet, which is “not a big area. If a slope on a property is greater than 15 percent or your located near a water source or any water drainage, you must do a stormwater management plan.”
Letters will be going out to contractors soon, providing information and a copy of the code to ensure that pre-development meetings take place.
In other news from the meeting, Mills reminded residents that the city meter reader would begin conducting the annual meter reading throughout the city of those who have meters and use water under the Dunes City Domestic Water Supply plan.
“We will do all we can, if we have your phone number, to contact you ahead of time,” Mills said. “If we don’t have your telephone number, please call us (541-997-3338) and let us know what that number is.”
Finally, Mills announced that the city had been awarded a grant of $301,750 to purchase Rebecca’s Trail.
“It’s an activity trail to link the north lake area of Dunes City with the south lake area of Dunes City,” Mills said, explaining that the grant had been in approval process for three years. Now that the city has been secured the funds, it will enter into negotiations on the property.
For more information, visit dunescityhall.com.