With sightings and complaints about local deer on the rise, city officials are reminding residents of their protected status and what they can do legally to protect their property from the graceful but occasionally annoying wildlife.
Mule deer and black- or white-tailed deer — the two species that are found on Mercer Island — began migrating back onto Mercer Island several years ago — annoying local gardeners and . City Hall contracts with the Regional Animal Service of King County for managing domestic animals, but all wildlife issues — including those related to deer — are handled by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Some areas of the state do permit legal hunting of deer during appropriate seasons, but hunting on Mercer Island is banned. City Parks and Recreation Director Bruce Fletcher said the only options that local property owners have to control deer are preventative measures.
"After contacting the WDFW Regional Office, the Enforcement Division explained that if deer damage is occurring on commercial property, then a wildlife agent can assist in evaluating damage control options," said Fletcher. He also noted that WDFW does not have any "catch and release" programs and they state that the method simply does not work.
The WDFW website has a wealth of information regarding living with wildlife. The section regarding preventing conflicts educates concerned citizens about deer fences, mini-barriers, repellents, scare tactics, and landscaping with deer-resistant plants. There is also a recipe for an inexpensive homemade repellent formula to spray on vegetation to deter the deer.
WDFW also suggests reviewing information on the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management website.
For additional information, concerned residents can contact the WDFW at 360.902.2515 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.