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