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Deer Crossings
© Charles Chandler
 
It seems that in rural areas, deer crossings continue to cause problems for motorists (not to mention for the deer). Signs have been posted alerting motorists to the risks, but there has been some confusion as to the intent of the signs. A woman who had been in no less than three incidents at deer crossings voiced her concerns on a radio talk show (as posted on YouTube),
My frustration is that Minnesota and North Dakota Departments of Transportation would allow these deer crossings in such high traffic areas. I mean, I've even seen them on the interstate... Why are we encouraging deer to cross at the interstate? I don't get it... I mean, I understand that deer are animals and they need to travel across the streets occasionally to survive and of course to find food but it seems to me... so irresponsible of us to allow these deer crossings to be in areas where these deer are so likely to be struck by oncoming traffic. Wouldn't you agree?
No wonder motorists aren't slowing down — they might not even be looking — they're all probably reaching for their cell phones to call radio talk shows and blame the State for the accidents.
 
Figure 1. Buck looking both ways before crossing the road.
We'd have better luck training the deer to check for traffic themselves. A sympathic civil servant at the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation is now conducting a pilot study, and while it's too early to tell if it's having a statistical impact on the accident rate, she thinks the initiative is promising. "Deer have demonstrated neuro-plasticity in other respects. For example, during hunting season, deer favor residential districts where hunting in not allowing. The only question here is whether deer can learn faster than humans." One of the first to volunteer for the training was Buck (shown in Figure 1). After his uncle was killed in a drive-by on the interstate, Buck evangelized caution whenever crossing any of the roads in the area. Now he's the pillar of the deer community.
 
Ironically, the car blurred by the high rate of speed was actually driven by the lady who called the radio talk show. In a telephone interview just minutes later, she told a reporter that she had been touching up her make-up in the rear view mirror, and never saw the sign, the deer, or the photographer. Buck is looking the other way on purpose — he knows that she's there — he just doesn't like her very much, and doesn't want to make eye contact.

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