Volunteers who fanned out across Ashland counted at least 106 deer this fall, down from tallies of about 190 deer during fall counts in 2011 and 2012.
However, fewer volunteers were available to count the animals, said Michael Parker, an organizer of the deer count and chairman of Southern Oregon University's Biology Department.
Volunteers previously covered 63 sections of Ashland, but in a count earlier this month they reached about 48 or 49 sections, Parker said.
A handful of tally sheets are still out and could boost the count, he said.
Anecdotally, many volunteers said they saw fewer deer in the areas they did cover, Parker said.
"Generally, there was a feeling that there were fewer deer," he said.
Organizers and volunteers first started counting deer during a half hour window at dawn in fall 2011 to get a baseline estimate on the number of deer in town.
Only deer that are visible to volunteers can be counted, not animals that are hidden in backyards or bedded down in thick vegetation.
Some residents welcome the sight of the wild creatures, but others are concerned deer eat gardens and landscaping, collide with vehicles and — especially during fawning season — threaten pets and people.
In 2012, the Ashland City Council passed a ban on the feeding of deer and other wildlife in town and also allowed residents to build taller deer fences to protect gardens, lawns and landscaping.
Some people who have put up deer fences said the fencing not only keeps the animals off their property, but seems to disrupt their routes through town.
Parker said volunteers hope to carry out another count in spring 2014.
That count will help reveal how many fawns survived the winter, he said.
Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.