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Hunting Contributes to Highway Deaths

Written by PETA | November 12, 2008
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A new report by the auto insurance–funded Highway Loss Data Institute finds that fatalities in collisions between vehicles and animals—mostly deer—have more than doubled in the last 15 years. Hunters are undoubtedly tripping all over themselves in the hope of using this to rationalize killing even more animals—but we believe that the blame for this crisis falls on their shoulders.

You see, hunting increases deer populations. Deer are masters of managing their own populations if left alone to judge how much food is available to sustain their herd size. Pregnant does have been known to reabsorb fetuses if a sharp winter deprives them of the nourishment to sustain a fawn. But, in hunted populations, does are more likely to have twins rather than single fawns (or none), and are more likely to reproduce at a younger age.

The state agencies that are responsible for wildlife “management” know this, of course—but they’ve allied themselves with hunters, who want there to be more living targets, not fewer!

So, instead of setting up chemo-sterilization programs or letting the deer figure things out naturally, “game” management agencies deliberately do things like destroying the deer’s forest homes by clear-cutting in order to increase the amount of vegetation for the deer to eat, and planting browse in order to fool the deer into increasing their populations. These programs help to ensure that there are plenty of animals for these officials and their bloodthirsty buddies to kill as well as plenty of revenue from the sale of hunting licenses.

When hunting seasons make the deer’s ever-shrinking territories into war zones, the deer find themselves constantly on the run—and in their panic they often jump right into roadways. A study of collisions between deer and vehicles in Pennsylvania found that the opening day and opening Saturday of deer-hunting season are “[t]wo of the most dangerous days to drive.” And the deer have good reason to be fearful: A British study of deer hunting found that more than 10 percent of deer who are killed by hunters had to be shot multiple times before they died—and that some wounded deer suffered for more than 15 minutes before dying. We suspect the situation is far worse in the good ole U.S. of A.

There is a lot of work to be done to help protect deer and other wildlife. And drivers should slow down and watch the road carefully during hunting seasons. Be aware that most of the time when a car hits a deer, the driver slowed down for one deer, and then sped up and hit another. In other words, if you see one deer, slow down and watch for the rest of the deer family.

So, if you hear someone try to justify hunting with the ludicrous line that “it helps animals,” call them out with the facts.

Written by Jeff Mackey

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  • bunny says:

    i found out my friend who apparently loves animals hunts rabbits because they destroy his friends land PETA you need to write a blog about alternatives like bigger fences? so i can show people like him they dont need to die.

  • amanda says:

    It’s kind of bothering me that this article oversimplified the issue and then a bunch of people said “I don’t get it” and “I’m a genius and I say you’re wrong.” Look it’s pretty obvious that with all we are doing to destroy their habitats and expand our measly little artificial worlds deer are not naturally prepared enough to handle all of it. It’s also obvious that responsible hunting would solve the problem. However humans do not and never have hunted responsibly. If the goal were controlling animal populations there could be no trophy bucks or hearty venison meals as killing the weak or sick would do much more to control the population than killing the strongest males would. It would no longer be fun for the hedonistic hunters. So instead of controlling populations here is the pure and simple truth of what the government agencies do They kill off natural predators to prevent them from naturally killing the precious game. They also as stated encourage hunting of the strongest animals. In this way the few strong bucks left will impregnate many females and the population will make up for what it has lost. The government and hunters like this because it leaves more animals for them to kill. And yes truth be told in theory that does leave more deer to be killed by cars but during hunting season there would still be fewer deer in hunting areas. Also it’s possible those municipalities with no hunting and many deer have in fact made hunting illegal because their “game” habitats are so dangerously close to civilization. But of course people trying to prove their point aren’t willing to make that sort of objective analysis right? That said that gives a lot more reason to stop cutting down forests than it does to kill all the deer. I know humans like to think we’re invincible and we don’t need nature but if we keep killing off animal species and natural environments we’re just going to make ourselves more miserable and unhealthy… Now aside from all the technical bs I am fully aware of the ethical concerns. And I think anyone who claims to be “objective” but denies that humans have an obligation not to torture animals is kidding themselves. Now that we’ve evolved into presumably compassionate creatures I would think you’d give that side of the argument some thought. Just a little.

  • Shawna Flavell says:

    Binjamin Mackey Thanks for your comment. We will be responding to it via email shortly.

  • Reba says:

    Hey Jeff Mackey could you please support your statment on how hunting actually increases deer population? please cause i couldnt come up with any myself.

  • Jim says:

    Can anyone please give any examples they have of deer actually controlling their population?

  • Mike White says:

    Well Guys I’m a hunter and while making this post I understand that I will open myself up for who knowns what. Now I’m a police officer in a city that does not allow hunting and hasen’t allowed this for over 15 years. Well I have the languished finger tips from typing crash reports to prove that there is two sides to everything. During hunting season fall to early winter whitetails enter the breeding season. I would be happy to elaborate on this if asked. Now when this happens and the herd is not in balance the male deer chase all of the female deer that they can in this time period.approx. 1 month And this by vehicle crashes throws the natural balance off causing more male deer to be killed while chaseing the females. well this snowballs. Either people stop driving or a hunting master plan should be developed. This has been developed in several cities accross america and it works!

  • David Sperduto says:

    I am an ardent supporter of animals’ rights. I often comment to my friends that “animals are people too you know.” However I am concerned that regarding sport hunting PETA is sometimes unwilling to acknowledge the full truth of circumstances. I do not hunt. I do not eat meat of any kind. But to say as PETA does in its statement on sport hunting that “Starvation and disease can be tragic but they are natures ways of ensuring that healthy strong animals survive and maintain the strength level of the rest of their herd or group” glosses over the full truth and the tragedy of an animal’s starvation experience. It may be true that in some cases sport hunting increases overpopulation and there is good evidence that it may weaken the genetic integrity of a population. But it does not sound intellectually honest to state that it always increases overpopulation or that it is always a bad choice. If someone is going to eat meat I would rather see them responsibly kill a deer than buy a Big Mac which represents months or years of misery for an animal followed by an arguably crueler death. Yes I would encourage people to stop eating meat altogether but PETA would gain much more societal acceptance if it were to acknowledge some of the grey areas in animal rights and accept that some solutions are better than others even though they are not perfect. Otherwise you run the risk of behaving like opponents of sex education who refuse to acknowledge the benefits of condoms because they support only abstinence.

  • Johnny Rico says:

    This article oversimplifies the issue. One thing that people forget is that all of your food and many other goods come from animals. This is mostly agriculture and farming. Don’t kid yourself modern agriculture and the type of farming we employ today is very antiwildlife. Clearing land exclusively for the use of farming eliminates the animal habitat and creates boombust scenarios with deer populations. Don’t blame the farmer though blame yourself. We are the problem more specifically our own overpopulation. For all you antihunting folks. Remember you can only afford to have that opinion because your forefathers hunting and abused the environment to the be able to build the overpopulated state that we are in now. If it wasn’t for this fact you wouldn’t have the education nor the time you would be out hunting for food to even right useless articles like this. And two deer shot in the head? not even one deer shot in the head. Why because stuff shot in the brain or even the skull from impact and shock falls over right now.

  • David says:

    I am calling BS on the story about the 2 deer with arrows in their heads. Like the previous post said 2 hunter 2 deer 2 arrows in the head very unlikely. It is hard enough to hit a deer with a bow and arrow much harder for 2 hunter to hit 2 deer at the same time. I should know i bow hunt. Hunters do dwindle population of deer. I read a study a long time ago. Up north the state took around 12 deer some does some bucks and placed them on an island that would sustain a heard this size. Within around 10 years the heard had grown out of control and the deer were starving. they had to send hunter in to take care of the problem. Where I am from humans are the only predators of deer. Also hunter’s contribute a lot more then any other source towards wildlife conservation by buying hunting equipment and hunting licenses. I hunt deer duck rabbit squirrel geece etc and still have a lot of respect for these animals. Also most hunters do not go out and kill the first thing that runs by. they wait for that trophy. If i killed everything that walked by me last year I would have killed around 50 deer. I only killed 3.

  • Phil N La says:

    In many areas the rutbreeding season takes place during hunting season. During this time whitetail bucks will chase does often across open areas and highways. At this time they are often oblivious to anything but the urge to breed.

  • ha says:

    I think fishing causes accidents too. People look at the fishers in the river to see if they catch stuff and then they crash because of not looking at the road. Ban fishing! yeah they breed fish and stock streams so there are too many and then they jump and the more there are the more often they jump up on the bridge and hit a car and cause an accident all because of humans making too many of them.

  • Christopher Cochran MD says:

    It is well established that traffic accidents involving deer are much more common in areas where hunting is not allowed. Also to blame the wildlife management practices of states is short sighted. The larger reason for deer explosion is habitat transition. Deer absolutely thrive in yards filled with rose bushes. In fact in the wild in late winter wild rose bushes are a favorite food for rural deer as well. Hunting doesn’t control populations as hunters would like to claim but all of you subdivisionliving urban sprawlers are at least as guilty as my local game and fish department. Yesterday was my birthday and I had venison. It was delightful. I doubt man could ever recreate in soy something so perfect as in nature. For the record I do have a biology degree or two.

  • TBG2323 says:

    I would love to see a works cited page for this article. Anything to prove that this was an article arguing scientific fact as it presented itself to be. If you understand the basic precepts of ecology then it is perfectly clear that hunting is the solution to overpopulation of deer herds. Yes people are the reason that the deer herds are growing rapidly but it is not because of hunting. It is due to urban sprawl. As people continue to develop alnd for towns to grow we move into the home ranges of deer and other animals. Predator animals are the first to go whether it be because they move deeper into the forest or someone worried about they’re dog being eaten has them relocated or killed. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of natural deer predators no longer live near towns so they have no effect on the deer population. It is the job of state agencies who employ biologists with wildlife management degrees who understand I would think much better than the author how deer populations should be controlled. So please Mr. Mackey inform me on where you biology degree came from.

  • stoptorture says:

    Interesting but I’ve found that the type of personality that tends to like harming other beings “hunting” scoffs at any facts like these. Of course I don’t really know if they are facts what do I know? But Peoples’ personalities and agendas affect what they are even willing to look into let alone believe. But even if they knew it was true most would still hunt because it comes down to they like it and they do what they like no matter what it does to others. It is just extremely selfish and despicable. And an interesting note regarding “hunting” is that many people who like guns often say how if someone had a gun they could shoot an attacker who was shooting in a school or somewhere and that seems correct for it would save the innocent people. So if I were there with a gun and someone was going to shoot innocent people I could shoot the attacker to save those people from that horrible attack and if I chose not to then I would have moral responsibility put on me that I did not stop it when I could have. Well how about if I am there with a gun and someone is going to shoot a feeling being who is a cat or dog or a deer just because they want to? Do I not have the right to stand up for the innocent being who would feel horrible pain and death due to an evil attacker fulfilling their selfish desire to kill? Is it not wrong for me to be forced to let it happen and have that responsibility and guilt put on me by that other person? That other person who is an attacker out to do great evil to an innocent being how does what they want somehow remove my rights and force me to allow them to do that evil and make me part of it? We do have 2nd Amendment rights. And if someone is going to go shoot innocents and do horrors to them then a person with a gun there should shoot the attacker who sets out to do such evils at least to wound and stop them. If you are there with a gun that you have to protect yourself or others in case of such situations and someone is going to shoot a deer then you shoot that person or else the responsibility of that feeling being’s agony falls on you. This society is evil. Remember that fighting for the rights of slaves was also once criminal here. There are many evil societies where people are criminalized for standing up for victims of various types and challenging abusers and murderers. This evil society is the enemy. It should be legal and right to go forcibly stop people from shooting other beings!!!!

  • MistyP says:

    This is a problem where I live also. My property backs up to hunting property. We never see deer squirrels or any wild animals. Not only are the deer in danger other animals as well. Within the last month these heartless hunters have shot our dog and last week it was my cat. Something should be done

  • Kurt K says:

    Irene I’m going to call BS on two deer running each with an arrow in the head across the path of your mailman. Hunters don’t aim for the head they aim for the vital organs. Plus the odds of two hunters shooting two arrows at the same time and hitting two deer in the head is like one in a billion. But if you say so.

  • lynda downie says:

    Thanks for a great wellwritten article Jeff! It had me gritting my teeth at the deception hunters use to justify their deadly ‘sport’.

  • King of Fiji says:

    First off I could care less as I don’t hunt. It never appealed to me. Second of all if the overdevelopment of Long Island continues I’m pretty sure the deer are going to die in a just as horrible way as a hunter would kill them. I’m not trying to be all against your oppinion but I’m just saying either way the deer on Long Island are fudged if everything keeps getting overdeveloped. On a sidenote I hope you weren’t trying to be all negative against guinea hens as they are second on my list of “Biggest Badasses in the Animal Kingdom.” The college I go to keeps a flock of them around for the reason you stated and I must say I’d want a flock of guinea hens as pets if I had open space. They are like chickens. But more loud and would be fun to annoy my neighbors with. xD

  • shannon says:

    I feel that if someone absolutely must shoot a deer it should be with a camera.

  • Irene says:

    I am lucky enough to live near the woods and I can see deer and any number of wildlife outside our windows eating the crabapples and drinking from the pond. I am also unlucky enough to live in an area surrounded by hunting land. The man just up the road can routinely be heard “testing” his rifles during this season. Our poor mail lady came to our mailbox crying her eyes out one day last week because she had seen two deer running right in front of her with an arrow sticking out of each of their prospective heads. It saddens me that so many people refuse to see the violence that hunting perpetuates. Around where I live and where I went to college the schools actually have a holiday on the first day of hunting season. Sure they call it something else but unless you’ve missed the news station saying it was another record year for hunting license sales you can’t deny it. I have heard of one alternative method besides letting the coyotes near us control the herd. In one or two counties around us some of the Wildlife offices are putting out deer birth control in different areas that are highly populated. Not the best idea but certainly better than the chorus of gunshots. Hunting at one point in our much storied history served its purpose. Back in the Ice Age when cultivating crops was an impossible task our only source of food was flesh. The only source of warmth was animal skins. At that point hunting was a necessity for survival and our bodies and lifestyles adapted. I’d like to think that after a few dozen millenia we’ve evolved. Yet every November I’m reminded how far we as a species have to go.

  • Cindy says:

    Just the other side of the coin here… On Long Island the deer popluation grew rapidly after hunting was banned. Then people starting harping about too many deer on the roads in their gardens etc. With the exploding deer population came deer ticks this is Lyme disease country. People starting buying guinea hens to control the ticks. Lyme disease became a problem. Now the deer are “taken care of” killed by the state to keep the population ‘under control’ so they can keep everything else ‘under control”. Sigh

  • Jeremiah Johnson says:

    I am floored by the information in this blog. I do not even hunt and can see that whomever wrote this article has way too much time on their hands. What is to be said about the tens of thousands of deer that are eliminated by people hunting every year? Someone please explain to me how an article could be written like this and neglect to mention an actual fact as important as this.

  • Maya, CVT says:

    Same thing with trapping beavers same thing with trapping mice. They all have different strategies. Our local state forest was worried that a hiking trail had beavers who were flooding the path so they trapped the adults. Guess what happened the juvenilles moved in and DOUBLED the size of the pond. Animals can also increase their litter size etc etc. There is new technology being developed in Minnesota where infa red cameras will sense large animals like moose and deer and stop lights will alert motorists. It’s still in the testing stages but if it works it will be a nonviolent way of preventing cars from colliding with wildlife.

  • Ryne says:

    Also a lot of hunters hunt Coyote and other predators which control deer populations. When you ask them why they do it they answer because they’re protecting their livestock. They’re the whole cause of the overpopulation. They also constantly breed dogs for hunting which is the reason why so many animals have to be put to sleep in shelters. Hunters are scum plain and simple!

  • King of Fiji says:

    Deer really got the short end of the stick when humans were created. I mean there is this one open field by this abandoned airplane factory near where I live and its going to be converted into a huge hotel and entertainment complex which means less room for the deer yet again. Also I don’t mean to defend hunting as I don’t do it but maybe its because there is less room and that there are more roads for which deers could cross and thus cause accidents? Also my dad sadly clipped a deer but luckfully the deer and the car survived. Therfore if one drives a Ford Taurus they ain’t getting killed by deer collisions.

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