They roam the neighborhoods at night, stealing at will.

They’re quiet, elusive, and jump over fences, tiptoe through private property and take whatever catches their eye.

We’re not talking tweakers here, although we could be. No, this neighborhood menace is deer, and apparently there are too many of them, snarling traffic, mowing through fields of lettuce, absconding with valuables, scaring the public and being generally uncivil.

So in all her wisdom, our governor signed a piece of legislation that allows people to cull them.

Say, wha-? Our … deer?

This is going to make the Azalea Park’s flower and tree fracas look like a day at Disneyland.

There’s so much to contemplate before we run willy-nilly to local garden patches!

They’re … our deer! We love our deer, except when they eat our garden the day before harvest! We love the way they graze along the flowers, except when they’re our flowers. They mosey down the street nibbling away, cross at the crosswalks and start grazing anew! Their fawns are adorable! All those spots!

And now we can … shoot them? Senate Bill 378 says we can.

What about the fact you can’t shoot a gun in town? Do you have to have a tag? Would there be a “Neighborhood Deer” season? How would you feel if you shot a doe and her babies come out of the bushes wondering what the heck happened? Gulp.

Some hunters — Dick Cheney comes to mind — have difficulty aiming. A great anthropology teacher of mine was shot dead when his “buddy” mistook him for a deer. Apparently, a bright orange one. So now, we want to trust gardeners to cull deer in town?! I think not.

But the rationale behind this bill is that there are too many deer — at least in Ashland. There, they’ve gone rogue. They threaten small children who try to pet them during the rut. They charge people who cut the geranium the deer wanted to nibble. It’s getting ugly out there.

They’ve become a public nuisance, and we gotta get ’em. It’s the ’Merican way, you know.

But, there’s the argument that we’re in their territory; they were here first. Wildfire and dry grass drive them to the easy pickins in town, like bears to trash bins and raccoons (don’t get me started!) to chicken coops, bird feeders and barbecues. Grrr.

Anytime I need bad advice, I call the mayor — any mayor will do.

“Hmmm,” said Mayor Jake. “I’m trying to think about field-dressing a deer in the middle of town. Like, where you’d put all the guts, the entrails. Not to mention what will happen to our flower population. It will explode! That wouldn’t be good. Not good at all!”

He finally admitted he wouldn’t shoot “the stinkin’ deer.” He’s tried to — but not in town! — and didn’t have much luck.

He admitted, however, that hunting is an American cultural thing.

“It is American,” I agreed.

“You have to say “cultural,” Pieper said. “If you just say ‘American,’ it’s redneck.”

Wouldn’t want to be that. “Cultural ’Murican thing” then, that hunting.

Ooh! But another bill passed last session that could solve the problem of errant bullets hitting citizens. This one allows drivers to keep the critter they struck and killed with their car! The Roadkill Bill!

Num-num! Possum! Raccoon! Sea gulls! Rover?

So instead of guns and arrows and darts, we could drive around town aiming for deer! Cars are a pretty deadly weapon! The doe that hangs out in front of the house on Wharf Street? Of course, you’d have to avoid … the house. And all those kids who hang out in the front yard. And I’m not sure how the car insurance companies would take this. They don’t like it when you hit a deer on accident, much less mow one down on purpose.

“Another one? That’s four this week!”

OK, so there’s very likely not going to be any deer hunting allowed in Brookings.

But I still want to know why we can’t shoot raccoons.

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