Yesterday at around 3:30 PM, my partner and I were driving home from visiting our favorite sanctuary, Chenoa Manor. On our way home, we were traveling a busy highway moving along at about 65 MPH. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a deer ran frantically into the road and struck my Smart car head-on.
There was no time to avoid the deer. I barely had time to attempt to hit the brakes. All I can remember is seeing the deer running like a bat out of hell across the highway, then a hard impact, and finally seeing the deer fly many feet into the air before flying over a guardrail and landing about 20 feet below into a steep ditch.
I pulled over and ran to see where the deer had landed. Fortunately, she was already dead. I then proceeded to assess the damage to my vehicle. I haven't received an estimate yet, but I assume it will cost several thousands of dollars to repair. It then hit me that my partner and I were lucky to be alive because an animal that large traveling through our windshield at that speed could have killed us both.
I began doing some research on deer accidents, because as an advocate against hunting deer, I often hear the argument that hunting them protects motorists. That statement could not be further from the truth. In fact, more fatalities involving motorists and deer occur when hunting is taking place.
I also discovered that the area where I hit the deer is located in Pennsylvania's Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) 5C. Hunting for antlerless deer, which this was, is occurring in this WMU until Jan 23. I also discovered that there was a PA State Park precisely bordering the roadway where the accident took place. "Hunters are welcome in Pennsylvania State Parks."
Usually deer are observed in groups grazing calmly along the roadway. This deer was alone and she looked like she was running for her life. This occurred in broad daylight, not normally when deer are on the move. I can only speculate as to what she was running for or from, but the evidence supports the claim that hunters actually cause accidents between deer and automobiles.
I often hear people incorrectly state that they were hit by a deer when in fact the deer was hit by them. I also often hear people say that "deer kill people," but I'd assume that the percentage of deer that are killed during a collision with a car are much higher than the percentage of people who are killed in the same circumstance.
During my youth, I was a deer hunter and attained both my gun and bow and arrow licenses when I was 10 years old. I used to go hunting with my Dad. I never shot anything and I frankly found hunting to be boring. Looking back, I remember my Dad saying that if we didn't kill the deer, they'd be killed by a car. I remember thinking in my head at that time, "how do you know THAT particular deer would be hit by a car?"
Obviously, hunters are merely attempting to justify their actions much in the way that most people attempt to justify their use of animals. After experiencing hunting and hitting a deer firsthand, I can say that I strongly disagree with hunting deer for any purpose. Why can't we just let the deer be? It's a tough fight, but thankfully there are groups who are advocating on behalf of the deer.
Let's also not forget that Pennsylvania has one of the strictest "hunter harassment" laws in the country. The WMU where I hit the deer had the highest kill rate of antlerless deer in 2008, which exceeded 20,200! That doesn't include the 8,700 antlered deer who were also killed that year.
This was a sad and sobering experience, but I hope it can serve to provoke thought in others to realize that deer hunting is not the solution! Let's let the deer be and consider that we are the ones killing the deer and not the other way around.
Please check out this deer FAQ from CARE.
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