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Oh, deer! Time to talk turkey about urban wildlife

Watch #LiveOnKVAL Monday at 6 p.m. as reporter Alex Hasenstab explores the sometimes complicated relationship between Oregonians and their wild neighbors.

EUGENE, Ore. - The charismatic apex predators grab the headlines.

Wolves returned to the state from Idaho and began to repopulate their range from northeastern Oregon to southwestern Oregon and areas east of Mount Hood.

That sometimes leads to conflicts with livestock producers - and death sentences for wolves.

It also leads to killings by people - some unsolved, others deemed a "poor decision" by law enforcement.

This spring, bears woke up from hibernating - and crossed major roads and wandered into Eugene neighborhoods, making a mess of unsecure garbage cans.

Tragically, a motorcyclist died after colliding with a big bruin in a crash in Central Oregon in June.

But cougars took center stage this year after showing up in places you'd be surprised to find them - like inside an Oregon motel - and with repeated sightings in Springfield near homes and schools.

That collision between people and Oregon wildlife took a tragic turn this summer when officials determined that a missing hiker from Gresham had fallen victim to a cougar attack, the first known deadly cougar attack on a human in the wild in Oregon history. The death reopened discussion of Oregon's decades-old ban on hunting cougars with hounds.

Such deadly attacks on humans remain rare, however.

More common are collisions between cars and deer or elk. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates 1.5 million drivers hit a deer each year, resulting in more than $1 billion of damage - and 150 human deaths - per year.

Deer are also a common sight in the suburban neighborhoods of Eugene, Oregon's second largest city.

So are turkeys, which gather together in "rafters" or "gangs" that - in the words of one Eugene City Councilor - result in "gangster" behaviors.

Time and again, the question comes up:

Is wildlife invading the human world?

Did humans build their homes where the wildlife live?

Watch #LiveOnKVAL Monday at 6 p.m. as reporter Alex Hasenstab explores the sometimes complicated relationship between Oregonians and their wild neighbors.

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