In honor of the official start to the deer hunting season that began today I wanted to focus a little more on the proposed solution by the city of Fort Thomas to control the deer population.
Here is a link to the city's site regarding deer control tips. The article indicates that Fort Thomas has averaged 9.2 deer collisions in the past 3 years. How does that compare to other areas? I know that I see a lot of deer carcasses along I-75 but never really see anything close to that in Fort Thomas.
According to the Kentucky State Police website there were 134 accidents in Boone County on average, 91 in Campbell. Obviously this is much larger area but the site also published a detailed map of every reported incident of deer collisions and at least 4 other areas in Northern Kentucky had many more incidences of collisions than in including Hebron Burlington (centered on Camp Ernst Rd), Erlanger (mostly along Turkeyfoot), (both US27 and the AA Highway were big hot spots for deer collisions), and finally in Independence along KY 17.
Now I don't want to down play the real threat that deer collisions can pose or the fact that they can cause deaths. However, generally deaths and damage for that matter occur generally only at higher speeds. In the only road that has a higher speed limit than 35 is along Memorial Pkwy which has been cited as the single biggest place for deer collisions. I also don't want to down play the cost of fixing a damaged car - according to the Kentucky state police site they indicate that a deer collision can cause $2,000 in damage on average.
While I do think that much of the criticism to the population control plan has been blown out of proportion I do think this is a very dumb idea. We have to look at the true cost / benefit of such a plan. I think the slight risk of a stray bullet outweighs the benefits of any reduction in accidents. Even if we are able to reduce the deer population with this plan there is no guarantee we will reduce the number of collisions that occur. While a reduction is likely other factors are at play including the number of people using Memorial Parkway and the loss of deer habitat from surrounding developments along Memorial Pkwy, in , Woodlawn, and Bellevue.
So is this a real problem for Fort Thomas and what are other reasonable solutions? While I think the problem has been a little overblown it can become a real problem down the road and doing nothing now can become a much bigger problem later. The ordinance to fine those who are feeding deer is a great first step and I believe will help - kudos to the city for this one. I also believe that there has to be a way to control the population through birth control. This approach is being studied across the country (here is an example of consideration being given to this plan in ) and may be a short year or two away from approval and widespread acceptance. I advocate the new city ordinance against feeding deer and waiting until other more viable options present themselves.