Deer returned to Baker City Hall Tuesday after a hiatus of somewhat more than a year.

Not literally — there were no bucks bumping into councilors’ microphones or anything like that.

But the topic of deer that live exclusively, or almost so, within the city limits did come before our elected officials for the first time since the Council, in late June of 2018, passed an ordinance banning residents from intentionally feeding deer.

(You’re still on the right side of the ordinance if your tastes in landscaping happen to overlap with those of the deer; intention is the key.)

Robin Laakso told councilors that she wants to build a fence taller than the 6 feet the city generally allows, her goal being to keep deer from marauding her organic vegetable garden.

Councilors didn’t take any action Tuesday. But Councilor Lynette Perry said she expects other residents will have questions similar to Laakso’s, and Perry suggested councilors have a further discussion on the matter.

That’s a good idea.

Justin Primus, assistant district wildlife biologist at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Baker City office, said the urban deer population isn’t likely to shrink soon, even with the anti-feeding ordinance in place. Even without having food set out for them on purpose, the animals have ample food sources. And besides cars, they face few threats.

On the positive side, Primus said that although deer can clear a 6-foot fence, that’s high enough to potentially deter some of the animals and convince them to seek easier pickings elsewhere.

Based on the comments from residents last year, there doesn’t seem to be widespread support for the city to take the more aggressive action, as allowed under a 2017 law, of asking ODFW to kill deer within the city. But it’s reasonable for councilors to discuss fence heights and other issues related to deer and their effects.

— Jayson Jacoby, Baker City Herald editor 

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