While our local white-tailed deer are beautiful to look at, they can be a real pain – eating landscape plants and trampling gardens. Sometimes these dear creatures can be a real danger. They dart in front of cars traveling at high speeds along the highway, causing damage to vehicles, injuries, and sometimes tragically even deaths.
Sadly, on September 22nd of this year, Stanford graduate Daniel Strickland died after his car collided with a deer north of Alpine Road on 280 and then a second car crashed into his stopped vehicle. Nationally, according to the Federal Highway Administration and as cited in the Mercury News, vehicles collide with 300,000 animals every year, causing 26,000 injuries and 200 deaths at a cost of $8.5 billion.
A Bay Area mom got concerned about these dangers when she observed many dead deer along a length of 280 and decided to do something about it. She lobbied Caltrans to do a study of deer movements along the 280 corridor to figure out where deer are crossing the busy highway and to see what solutions are available.
Caltrans actually agreed to fund the study, to the tune of $320,000, and partnered with a group of researchers from UC-Davis. The initial part of the study will be from December 2nd to December 15th, when officers from the Department of Fish and Game will be tranquilizer darting and trapping deer along the highway between Woodside and San Mateo. The officers will be carrying what looks like rifles and want motorists to be aware of who they are and what they’re doing for safety reasons. Their vehicles will be clearly marked with the Fish and Game logo.
The deer captured will be fitted with radio collars that will record data for six months and then fall off, and then a second batch of deer will be captured and studied.
We hope that the information gained from this study will help provide good solutions to human-wildlife interactions along 280 and make the environment safer for both drivers and deer friends. .