If you’re barreling down the road safely behind the wheel of your carbon-spewing steel-cage-contraption and “clip,” “wing” or “sideswipe” a soft-bodied deer trying to cross one of the ubiquitous roadways, even if it hobbles away looking “okay” you killed the poor creature. Maybe not outright and maybe not today, but you can bet that he or she won’t make it through too many cold nights without succumbing to his or her injuries.
The fact is, there are just far too many cars, driving far too fast for conditions (which include marked or unmarked deer crossings) for any semblance of sanity.
Just this morning, I had the displeasure of having to “put down” a wounded deer who had been staying in our hay shed for the past two nights. I knew he (one of his antlers was lost when the car or truck hit him) was wounded, but it wasn’t until he limped off yesterday morning dragging his broken and mangled hind leg that I knew for certain he had no hope of any natural recovery. The bone was protruding from the compound fracture which would never heal right on its own—and no vet around here would treat an injured deer since this county fancies itself a “trophy” mule deer area and deer are just a “resource.”
As much as I hate to take the life of any animal, I was forced to do what the deer ultimately wanted of me and end his suffering as quickly and humanely as possible. After the deed (I shot using a high-powered rifle with a scope through the open bathroom window), my wife and I rolled his lifeless body onto a tarp and slid it across the snow to a safe spot for scavengers to feed.
“Roadkill” is so prevalent in this valley that signs have been placed at either end of the highways leading into what should just be a deer wintering range warning motorists that the annual tally of deer deaths are 150+ (that figure updated yearly). But more ominous to most drivers is the estimated cost repairing their precious vehicles. Still, no dollar-value or loss of non-human life would convince most drivers they should change the speed limit to 25 or 35 miles-per-hour (as it’s marked and enforced through the towns).
I’m sure it would be considered heresy these days to demand an enforced 45 mph daytime speed limit on any highway bisecting any deer winter range, but that’s the kind of “extreme” step we’ll have to take if we want to go on using the name homo sapiens, meaning “intelligent ape,” and not be demoted to something reflecting recklessness or self-centered-ness—something like homo erraticus, homo psychopathicus, homo drive-too-fasticus or whatever type of homo scientists deem appropriate.