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Wildlife on campus: Keep a safe distance

During fall, the leaves are changing and so are the behaviors of wildlife–especially those in breeding season.
Encountering deer or elk on Central Oregon Community College’s campus is a regular occurrence according to Corey Heath, Wildlife Biologist at Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. How the student responds during that encounter will determine whether the experience is positive or negative.
When the Oregon Department Fish and Wildlife or COCC’S Campus Public Safety receives concerns about deer and elk acting unusual, they advise people about what to do, what not to do, and how to avoid that type of encounter.
“As with any wildlife, the direction is to not interact with them and not feed them,” said Jim Bennett, COCC’S Campus Public Safety officer.
In addition to deer and elk there have been many other sightings of wildlife on campus, according to Bennett.
“Over the years we’ve had wildlife sightings and reports that have included bats in buildings, large herds of elk and deer on campus, and all the way to rabbits in buildings,” said Bennett. “Our swings and graveyard shifts see coyotes on campus.”

Coyotes are also animals that should be left alone, according to Bennett.
“We do encourage anyone to contact us if they feel an animal is acting strangely or is in a place that is out of the normal.”
Spring and fall are primary seasons for concern of animals acting aggressively, according to Heath.
“It is the breeding time of year, or ‘rut’ season,” said Heath. “So the bucks are aggressive this time of year.”
The spring is when deer are giving birth to their young. Doe and fawn should also be left alone, according to Heath.
In the case of aggressive wildlife, the number of incidents are few, according to Heath.
“We get maybe two to four calls a year in the Awbrey Butte area,” said Heath of animals acting aggressively.
When encountering wildlife, whether it is deer, elk, or other animals, both Heath and Bennett suggested, above all, keeping your distance.
“We encourage people not to interact with the wildlife,” said Bennett. “Stand at a safe distance and enjoy the beautiful nature that surrounds us.”
Laruren Hamlin | The Broadside

(Contact:lhamlin@cocc.edu)

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