A summer deer count in Ashland has allowed scientists to get a snapshot of fawn births in town.
Almost two dozen volunteers fanned out over 22 sections of Ashland in late July to count bucks, does and fawns. They found 76 deer, including four single fawns and 20 fawns that were part of twin sets.
"This was very much a trial balloon," said Michael Parker, Southern Oregon University biology department chairman, who was one of the organizers.
He said it's common for does to produce twins. They sometimes bear triplets as well, but those fawns rarely survive because of their small size, he said.
He said the summer count covered only a part of Ashland, unlike previous fall and spring counts in which volunteers blanketed most of the town.
In fall 2011, volunteers found 187 deer during a half-hour period near dawn. A spring count this year led to 118 deer sightings, Parker said, but it did not include all the areas covered in the 2011 count.
The spring sightings translate into an estimated urban deer population of 167 to 215 animals, Parker said.
The lower spring count may have reflected winter deer mortality, an increasing number of deer killed in collisions with vehicles, poor nutrition or disease, Parker said.
In 2012, the City Council banned the feeding of deer and changed regulations to allow people to build taller fences around their lawns and gardens.
"It does appear that there is a significant increase in deer fencing going up around town," Parker said.
Parker said some people have reported fewer concentrations of deer after their neighbors stopped feeding the animals. But others say they still see many, especially above Siskiyou Boulevard where the city blends into the forest.
Parker said volunteers and scientists are planning a full deer count in October. They will watch out for surviving fawns to help get an understanding of fawn mortality.
"It starts filling in the blanks," Parker said.
Ashland City Councilor Carol Voisin, who has been involved in the counts, said volunteers may also count deer fences the next time they fan out across the city.
While deer will always congregate around good vegetation and water sources, Voisin said she believes fences and the feeding ban have helped lessen impacts on some neighborhoods.
While many people enjoy seeing deer in town, others have complained that the animals eat landscaping and gardens, are sometimes aggressive toward dogs and people, and collide with vehicles.
Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.