My posts about cougars here and at LITGM drew a lot of traffic. It seems as though it is a subject of interest to a lot of people (a new cougar link dump soon to come). Gerry’s post here about coyotes also drew some links and clicks. The common thread is the encroachment of wildlife in typical non wildlife domains. I am not talking about “urban sprawl”, or people moving into areas where there is already wildlife established. I am referring to animals encroaching back into populated areas. This photo below was taken on the way to work this morning. Before bashing my photography skills, some background. Just outside of my house is this four lane highway. A deer was running down the median in the center, right next to my car. I changed lanes to the right lane and slowed down, all the while getting my camera out. When the deer randomly decided to cross the road I was ready and was able to slow down and snap this admittedly crappy photo with the one free hand I had (the other on the wheel). You can see the deer in the left lane here. It was a very large doe. She crossed the street, looked back at me and went into someone else’s yard. Click photo to enlarge.
Car deer accidents cost insurance companies (and, in the end, us) millions upon millions of dollars. This is a very good pdf put out by the Wisconsin DOT that gives a lot of good information about car deer crashes.
What is funny (or not funny) about this is that outside of extending the hunting seasons I don’t see any way that this problem will go down or go away – and I think it is getting worse. I see deer alongside the road (dead and alive) almost every day that I drive to work. When I was a kid it was a BIG deal to see a deer in the wild.
The deer has very few natural predators around here any more. The only ones I can think of are wolves (only in Northern Wisconsin), and coyotes if they hunt in a pack. We also have the random cougar that comes by on occasion. One other predator of deer is winter. I hate to do this to myself, but I am wishing for a bitterly cold winter to kill off a bunch of the deer. I would rather suffer through a few months of bone chilling cold than risk my safety or the safety of my family due to a car-deer crash.
Cross posted at LITGM.