The Ceiling Can’t Hold Us
- June 7, 2023
Normally when we read about deer, we are anxious to learn more about how to nail that trophy we want to hang on the wall, but there are other dynamics to look at regarding our deer population. I guess what brought this topic to mind was a recent trip to visit family near the Ohio
Normally when we read about deer, we are anxious to learn more about how to nail that trophy we want to hang on the wall, but there are other dynamics to look at regarding our deer population. I guess what brought this topic to mind was a recent trip to visit family near the Ohio state line. To help kill time on these long road trips, I often count the dead deer I see along the highway; I know that’s kind of silly, but it does help keep my mind off of watching the gas gage drop and that’s downright scary.
On our trip last week, we covered about 550 miles round trip out Interstate 80 and then south on Route 376-four lane highway almost the entire trip. On the trip out, I counted 17 dear carcasses — a pretty high number, I thought. On the return trip, I counted 28 dead deer, and bear in mind these are only the ones plainly visible on or along the highway; how many more were down over the bank and out of sight?
So, what does this tell us?
Well, deer obviously don’t look before they cross, and maybe drivers need to be even more alert. What do all these dead deer along the highway tell us about the Pennsylvania deer population? I don’t really know, so I’ll let that up to the experts to figure out, but it does make one wonder if there is any kind of deer shortage, at least along Interstate 80.
While on the subject of dead deer along our roadways, another topic comes to mind: their removal. From what I understand, the removal of deer carcasses from roadways is currently handled by the PGC and the Department of Transportation. The actual removal is sometimes handled by private contractors who are hired to collect and dispose of deer carcasses. At their April 9 meeting, the Pennsylvania Game Commission gave preliminary approval for a motion that would allow nuisance wildlife control operators to offer road-kill deer pick-up. These nuisance control operators would be allowed to charge a fee for their services. I guess this move is probably geared more to removing deer that are lying dead in someone’s front yard along a highway or similar situations. In the meantime, I suspect I’ll still have enough dead deer along the highway to keep my mind off the gas gage.
Now, what about the diseased deer? Not good news for our area since the Pennsylvania Game Commission has recently announced the creation of a new chronic wasting disease management area and expanded several others. The new area was created when CWD was found at a captive deer facility in Lycoming County. This newly established area includes portions of Lycoming, Northumberland, Montour, Columbia, and Sullivan counties, about 460 square miles.
Keep in mind that it is unlawful to remove or export a deer head, spinal column, and spleen from a management area, and nor can you directly or indirectly feed wild, free-ranging deer in these areas. The Game Commission will be offering free CWD testing sites within the disease management areas, and these locations will be announced before deer hunting season. I’m sure there will be more to report on this subject as we draw closer to the fall deer seasons.
It will be interesting to see how all of this affects our deer hunting and consumption. In the meantime, you can count dead deer along the highway or check your gas gauge more frequently.