Don’t Feed The Wild Things

Kudos to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and to the Eugene Parks and Open Space Department.

At dusk on Nov. 2, I was in the Spencer Butte parking area after a hike. There was a young deer (older than a fawn) by the steps, mingling around the various hikers; it walked right up to people as if looking for food. It was very tame and even approached hikers with dogs. One group of hikers said it followed them to the top, and they dubbed the deer “Snacks” because it would eat any snacks they offered.

I was concerned because this fearlessness is not normal behavior for a deer. I contacted the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the response was fast. Sadly, I was informed that this is a deer that was obviously taken and raised by humans — probably by people with a pet dog. I was told that this deer’s chances of survival are almost nil. Taking a fawn home and trying to domesticate it is a death sentence, because it never learns natural deer behavior such as how to avoid predators and forage for food. Released back into the wild, the deer is a sitting duck for any predator.

ODFW told me they subsequently made up flyers to post and sent them to the Eugene Parks and Open Space Department. When I went back to the parking lot a few days later, there were the signs posted at the trailhead warning people not to feed deer.

Thanks to ODFW and the city of Eugene for responding so fast!

Lorin Hawley


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