/In the headlights

In the headlights

Earlier this year I was driving along Highway 118 westbound between West Guilford and Carnarvon.

It was an overcast winter day just starting to lilt into twilight.

For several kilometres I’d been following a low-riding Jetta.

Our little caravan passed up over a rise and suddenly a brownish object that resembled a large sack of flour or potatoes flew up from the front of the Jetta’s passenger side several feet into the air.

By the time it hit the ground on the shoulder my brain had processed that it of course wasn’t a sack of flour or potatoes but a deer.

The driver of the Jetta slammed the brakes. I slammed mine.

The young couple inside the car was shaken but uninjured. The same couldn’t be said for the car.

Or the animal.

I watched with some degree of horror as the panicked deer one of its hind legs clearly broken painstaking dragged itself off the roadway and into the woods presumably to its fate.

I hoped hypothermia would find it before a pack of coyotes.

Haliburton County ranks No. 2 among Ontario communities for the highest number of animal-vehicle collisions reported to police sometimes more than 200 a year.

And those are just the ones that are reported. Most of them involve deer.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is collaborating with the OPP and the MTO on a campaign designed to reduce the number of deer-vehicle collisions.

A key component of that campaign is public education.

It is dangerous to feed deer. That cannot be stressed enough. To get very scientific about it . . . it throws everything out of whack.

Feeding deer draws the creatures out of natural wintering grounds and into areas of human habitation where they normally would not roam. It desensitizes them to humans making them unafraid of us. It also spreads disease with members of a herd all eating seed off the same patch of ground.

Despite ministry warnings not to feed deer numerous county residents still do it. It’s not difficult to spot the deer-feeding residences. While these residents believe they are helping Bambi and his buddies through the scarcity of another long dark Haliburton winter they are actually doing the exact opposite creating danger for the animals and for motorists.

Some have snickered online about the campaign and yes it’s true that because Haliburton County has a large deer population there is a certain chance of residents hitting them with their cars; a much greater chance than getting kicked in the head by a kangaroo or stampeded by an elephant say.

However logic would dictate that if fewer residents fed deer there would be fewer of them on the road.