If the deer is suffering from fibromatosis, then according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, it is likely to survive as the virus is not a significant cause of deer deaths. The disease is specific to deer, including white-tailed mule deer and black-tailed deer, and is not known to occur in or affect humans. In addition, the disease is self-limiting and the fibromas (skin tumors) tend to regress over time.
The home’s backyard borders woodland that stretches west to Winnekenni Park and is home to many deer, including about 30 or so that meander into the Burke family home on Kenoza Street every morning before sunrise and every night before sunset.
“We set up a feeder to distract them from eating our apple trees in the spring when they bud,” Burke said. “We have the feeder out all year long and the deer seem to like the grain better than the buds of the trees.”
He said a few neighbors contribute to the purchase of corn and other grains because they don’t want the deer eating their shrubs and flowers.
“The deer live in the woods behind us, which reaches all the way to Winnekenni Castle,” Burke said.
Recently, more deer than usual have been arriving to feed. Burke says it’s probably because of logging that has been taking place off Kenoza Street and behind Northern Essex Community College as part of a city forestry program to remove diseased hemlock trees.
“They’ve been coming earlier and there’s more of them,” Burke said about the deer. “One group comes and stays for a half hour or so, then when they leave another group arrives and stays a while, taking turns at the feeder and sometimes playing — fighting each other.”
“It’s a combination of males, females and young ones,” Burke said.
He said the deer put on a show that friends and neighbors come to watch.
“They do get skittish when I’m around, but not when my father is out there,” Burke said. “He can be shoveling snow and they’ll be 20 feet away.”