The Doe’s Song

Leath Tonino in Orion Magazine:

Tonino_image-771x771RICHARD NELSON’S 1997 book, Heart and Blood: Living with Deer in America, doesn’t deal all that much with roadkill, but the few statistics it does provide are overwhelming. By chance I had been overwhelmed with them at breakfast, drinking my coffee, reading at the table in Vermont, before getting in the car for the drive to New Jersey. “Back in 1961 when deer were scarce by present standards,” Nelson writes, “œofficial reports counted fewer than 400 deer killed by cars on [Wisconsin’™s] roads. Just 30 years later, in the 1990s, the number had soared to between 35,000 and 50,000 whitetails killed annually, and the actual figure could be much higher, since injured deer often get away from the highway before dying.” He goes on: The number of deer killed by cars in Boulder [Colorado] varies from 120 to more than 200 each year, and an equal number (if not more) are injured or straggle off to die in the brushland. Deer accidents increase during winter, midsummer, and especially the fall rut. An animal control officer told me, “We’ll pick up two or three dead deer every day in rutting season, plus usually one more that’s injured so badly it has to be euthanized.”

A spring morning, a cup of coffee, the house quiet. I leaned back in my chair and thought about the math. Boulder plus every other city, town, and open road in Colorado. Plus Wisconsin. Plus Florida and California. Plus Vermont and New Jersey. Two or three. Plus usually one more. Between 35,000 and 50,000. Could be much higher. I took a gulp, then took another. Straggle off to die in the brushland.

More here.