My husband and I retired to Duck Lake in Ocean Shores in 2000, having previously camped on our property for 13 years. I became a Master Gardener and landscaped with shrubs and flowers. Although I had not seen a deer in all the years we had camped here, by 2002 the deer had become a problem. I studied, purchased and recommended plants considered deer-resistant, and I emphasized them in my garden. More deer came. I studied, purchased and recommended products meant to deter deer. Still more deer came. After many complaints by the citizens and much discussion at council meetings, the city added feeding the deer to the Nuisance Code of Ocean Shores. (Chapter 8.32, Sec. 8.32.020AA).
Today, I have no garden. Not a single flower has survived the marauding deer that roam my property. I have to shovel deer crap before I mow the lawn. I can’t drive at night for fear of hitting the slowest of the herd. Even in daylight, they are a road hazard when tourists stop in the middle of the road to watch or photograph them. Traffic accidents with deer cause an average of $1,500 in damages per incident. In the wild, experts say deer prefer to graze on native plants, allowing weeds and other non-native, invasive plants to take over and depriving other organisms and wildlife of their habitat. The deer in Ocean Shores are voraciously destroying gardens across the city.
Unbelievably, many locals still put out bags of grain and boxes of apples; some feed the pests twice a day! I have even seen three-point bucks enter garages for the food left for them. Who wouldn’t call this a “nuisance”?
When will this city put some teeth into the ordinance against feeding these animals? It is only a question of time before Ocean Shores’ hand-fed deer become aggressive, as has been the case with overpopulated herds elsewhere. On the East Coast and elsewhere, deer spread Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Diseases spread through deer feces include chronic wasting disease, and humans can contract E. coli infections as a result of deer feces contaminating food crops.
We have already done irreparable harm to these deer; let’s not wait for our pets and children to be harmed also. I am asking the city council to take up this measure in earnest.