Be Careful Out There! Deer in the Road

Deer sprinting across a road (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

7 September 2023

A year ago I learned that deer are really easy to find and photograph in Schenley Park in August but suddenly much harder to find in September. As their breeding season, called the rut, approaches its November peak deer become secretive in the woods(*). However, the rut prompts them to move around a lot so they sprint across the road. Their behavior in past six days has borne that out already.

On a walk in Schenley Park on 1 September I saw four bucks resting in their usual spot near the Upper Trail. One buck had just shed velvet from his 9-point antlers which were bloody from the missing velvet. With him were one 8-point and two 4-point bucks. Shedding velvet is the first obvious sign of the rut and the biggest buck was ready.

Two days later, on 3 September, only one 4-point buck remained in that resting place. The others were somewhere secret and moving around. That night I heard two reports of deer collisions in the city. These don’t end up in the deer-killed-by-cars statistics if the deer are only stunned:

  • Mary at 8:15pm posted a comment on my blog: “Off-topic but I wanted to let you know that a deer and car collided this evening around 730 pm on Schenley Drive near the library. Deer sat on the side of the road for a while. Then stood up as people gathered around.”
  • Dylan @DylPar252 tweeted from Pittsburgh on 3 Sep at 9:49pm: “I literally just watched one get hit by a car in front of my house on a busy inner city street. The deer do indeed need managed (she kept on moving btw)”

In the city, deer have to cross roads to get anywhere especially in Schenley Park. The deer pictured below are on a virtual traffic island — Flagstaff Hill — surrounded by cars. When I took this picture in April they weren’t charged up with breeding hormones so they ambled or trotted across the road instead of sprinting.

They had to cross a road to get here! 3 deer on Flagstaff Hill, April 2023 (photo by Kate St. John)

But now we can expect a lot more accidents in the months ahead. Collisions don’t end well for deer.

Deer deer on Circuit Road, Schenley Park, Oct 2020 (photo by Kate St. John)

And they don’t end well for cars.

Deer damage to Marcy Cunkelman's car, 19 June 2017 (photo posted by Marcy Cunkelman)
Deer damage to Marcy Cunkelman’s car, 19 June 2017 (photo posted by Marcy Cunkelman)

So be careful out there! Watch out for deer in the road.

Learn more about cars and deer in this vintage article.

p.s. Yesterday City Council approved two bills that will begin deer management in the City of Pittsburgh. When the bills were introduced last week the public made comments on hunt vs no-hunt yet no matter where someone stood on that spectrum everyone agreed there are too many deer in Pittsburgh.

The first step in City Deer Management will be a pilot program bow hunt in Frick and Riverview this fall. It will not solve the deer overpopulation problem but is the first step in deer management and is required by the PA Game Commission.

Here are three of the many news articles about City Deer Management in Pittsburgh. Please don’t ask me how the hunt will be conducted. I don’t know that answer.

(credits are in the captions)

p.s. Deer are secretive in autumn in Schenley Park except … There’s a place where someone puts out food. Six were feeding there on Sunday 4 Sept.

One thought on “Be Careful Out There! Deer in the Road

  1. County parks around the city have had bow hunting for many years, and it helps control the population. Strict rules apply, with human safty #1

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