Oh deer! Bellingham considers ban on feeding deer after neighborhood invasion

Deer are invading a Bellingham neighborhood by the dozens and feeding the animals could soon be against the law. (Photos courtesy: neighbors in Bellingham's South Hill area)

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Deer are invading a Bellingham neighborhood by the dozens and feeding the animals could soon be against the law.

“The problem is the numbers are getting out of control not because they are eating people’s bushes or gardens, but because some people are intentionally feeding the deer,” said Michael Lilliquist who is the president of the Bellingham City Council.

In the South Hill neighborhood the plants and vegetables inside Ginger Decker’s garden are tall and teeming. That's because of a fence protecting them from a growing number deer that are frequently spotted around the neighborhood.

“They were laying on either side of my yard, 20 at a time,” Decker said.

Decker spent more than $3,000 on landscaping that was destroyed by the deer and then on preventive measures to keep the deer out of her yard – but little has worked.

“I heard a loud crash and a buck had rammed his antlers into my kitchen window and it felt like an earth quake,” said Decker. “My cat was on the other side of the window.”

The deer that have become aggressive with people and pets. Wildlife officials said it’s because they’re being fed by people.

“It impacts the neighborhood, our feeling of safety, our pets’ safety and obviously the vegetation gets pretty hacked,” said Rachel Budelsky, who lives in the South Hill neighborhood.

Now the city of Bellingham is considering a ban on feeding deer.

“We are looking at a set of rules, hopefully a small narrow set of rules that indicate you shouldn’t be feeding deer on purpose,” said Lilliquist.

It’s not yet clear what consequences neighbors would face if they continue to feed the animals, but some residents and officials hope is will begin to solve the growing problem.

“We don’t want to go out and get rid of our deer, we are just trying to prevent people from making the problem worse with their well-intentioned behavior,” said Lilliquist.

It’s not yet clear when the Bellingham City Council will vote on the proposed ordinance.

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