Cars And Deer

Deer spooked near the road (photo by Mike Tewkesbury, Creative Commons license via Flickr)
Deer spooked near the road (photo by Mike Tewkesbury, Creative Commons license via Flickr)

27 November 2016

It’s that time of year again when cars and deer come into conflict.

From October to early December white-tailed deer hormones surge for the mating season.  Males become aggressive, spar with their rivals, and challenge anything they see as a threat.  Both sexes roam in search of mates and barely pay attention to their surroundings.  Cars are the last thing on their minds.

Last year, Pennsylvania won the “prize” for the most deer-vehicle collisions in the U.S.   According to a September 2015 article by Ad Crable at Lancaster Online, we hit 127,275 deer with our cars — and those were only the collisions reported to insurance.   When compared to hunting season, which took more than 353,000 deer that year, we’re making a sizable dent with our vehicles.

A case in point is in Schenley Park where hunting is prohibited (*) as in all Pittsburgh City Parks.  Deer used to be rare but they moved in about 10 years ago (perhaps longer) and their population has exploded in the past five years.  I knew we’d reached a milestone when I saw a first ever road-killed deer in the Park along the Boulevard of the Allies, hit on November 5 or 6.

I’m sure the person who hit that 6-point buck was very, very surprised.  So are those whose dogs are challenged by aggressive deer.  Every year since 2015, a buck has killed a dog in the City’s east end parks.

So be careful out there, especially at dusk and dawn when deer are most active.  Use your brightest headlights and slow down.  Don’t become a statistic.

Reminder: Deer (rifle) season begins tomorrow, Monday November 28, in Pennsylvania. Wear blaze orange when you’re outside the city.

(*) Update on 6 September 2023: Due to the huge deer population in the City of Pittsburgh, City Council today passed two bills that begin the process of deer management. The first allows the Mayor and the head of the Dept of Pubic Safety to make an exception to the “no hunting” rule in the parks. The second allows the city to hire USDA to assist them with deer management. See the news at CBS Pittsburgh KDKA

(photo by Mike Tewkesbury, Creative Commons license via Flickr. Click on the image to see the original.)

8 thoughts on “Cars And Deer

  1. In April of this year I was driving in North Park (Allegheny County, Pa) and I saw a pair of deer running toward the road. I came to a complete stop. One deer ran right in front of my car and the second ran into the side of my car, with a loud thud. It bounced off and ran away, seemingly uninjured leaving dents in my car. It was daylight, so I figure it was a low IQ deer or had really bad eyesight.

  2. I have lived in PA for over 40 years and I must say that I don’t know of a single family member or close friend that has not hit a deer at some time or other. the only sure way to prevent these collisions is to not drive, not a practical choice in these parts. So – be extra careful

  3. Did the deer kill the dog on purpose with his antlers?
    I don’t think my home Wisconsin can compete with that many collisions. Is there too much development going on that forces the deer into what is now newly populated areas?

  4. Last week I was driving to work (through a fairly rural area). A car was coming in the other direction and a buck chasing a doe at full speed burst from the bushes between me and the other car. I was able to stop, but the other person swerved (toward me) to miss the buck, but luckily was able to straighten out before hitting me. I also had to chase a confused looking buck off of the main road going through Bridgeville a week or two ago (kept beeping my horn and creeping toward him until he went off the side of the road). Our biggest deer accident was on I-79 about 6 years ago when we hit a deer going 65 miles an hour (never saw it run out from the side of the road in the dark). Truly, I bet that most people in Pennsylvania have hit a deer at some time in their life.

  5. I just got back from deer camp. I got a nice 8 point buck—- on Friday! About 1 mile from home at 11:30 in the morning it hit the left front of my truck. The dealer said about $7,000 plus to fix.

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