I narrowly missed hitting a deer tonight. I had to work late, and was thinking about the looming Fiscal Cliff as I drove home in the dark. Suddenly, there, just off to the right, was big doe, just waiting for me to get close enough that I wouldn’t have time to stop before she leapt in front of my car. Yet I managed to evade her, just as I evaded Jessica back in the 8th grade.
And suddenly it occurred to me: what if there were a way to make deer more visible to drivers?
I live in Michigan, where accidents caused by deer are very common, especially at this time of year. I drive across the state almost weekly, and typically see three or four fresh deer carcasses by the side of the highway on each trip. They don’t seem to clean them up any more here. They are rarely whole or intact; usually they’re just mangled pieces with protruding bones, mounds of furry flesh, or scattered limbs. Sometimes all that’s left is a big red smear across the road. It usually takes a few weeks before the crows and coyotes can dispose of them. And each one of them represents some tragedy to a family: hundreds or thousands of dollars of damage to the vehicle, a terrific fright, a very good chance at injury, or even death.
Each year, there are around 1.5 million car/deer accidents. The cost totals to over a billion dollars. Hundreds are killed and thousands are injured.
Something has to be done.
I propose that a law be enacted requiring all deer to wear reflective collars. Now, I know that they may not wish to do so, but after all, it is for their own safety, too. The collars don’t need to be very expensive, because they don’t (initially) need to have batteries, lights, GPS trackers, or airbags built in. Just a reflective, luminescent strip that’s not easily removed, will last a few years, and can be seen at night from 200 or 300 yards.
We won’t even need to hire extra game wardens to sedate and collar the deer. Think of all the avid hunters who decry the limited deer season – they’d be able to go out and shoot multiple deer with tranquilizer guns and attach the collars, posing for Facebook pictures next to their prize “kills.” I’d bet that many of them would even pay for the privilege of going on such a hunt.
And if insufficient hunters are available in some remote areas, then perhaps mechanical devices could be left in the woods to painlessly collar the deer. Mr. Bambi smells the tasty apples, stick his head through the opening, and around his neck goes the reflective collar! Could anything be simpler?
But don’t think of the cost – think the savings! How much is a life worth (deer or human)? Who could spare the expense when one considers the opportunity of preventing trauma, lifelong grief, emotional and physical scarring, and the persistent memory of that musty, wet animal smell?
And for those who would say that a program like this is ill-afforded at a time of national crisis, I say, “Pshaw, bring on the crisis!” The sooner we poke the bloated carcass, the sooner will the natural process of decay and renewal commence. To wait is to risk a great gaseous explosion that flings rotten parts at great distance from the corpse. Let the crows and coyotes come quickly, and let them be nourished. It’s the cycle of life.
I think it’s high time we supported the great causes that have spectacularly bankrupted empires in historical times. No more “fiscal conservatism” for me. I’m going to begin promoting things that will be easy “sells:” the things that people want, and the things that people think others should want. Things like:
- A manned mission to Mars
- Clean fusion generators
- Clean city buses
- Free health care for all, including coverage for personal trainers, waxing, and relaxing annual vacations.
- A high speed rail tunnel to Hawaii
- A bridge to Puerto Rico
- A War on Gingivitis
- Free satellite dishwashers
The possibilities are truly endless. But let’s start with making night driving safe again. Think of the deer!