PSU Deer Study

You know when you’re doing something and things are going well but you know that it is just a matter of time before they don’t.

Like carrying 3 bags of groceries in each hand so you don’t have to make 2 trips. Ninety-nine percent of the time you’re fine but there’s the lousy 1% when you buy one too many jars of spaghetti sauce and you drop the whole lot just as you hit the back step.

Don’t pretend you haven’t done it. Or like walking the dog after dark with no leash in October when the skunks are out. Let’s say I learned that lesson the hard way…more than once. But I digress.

As usual I am talking about a deer. A doe this time. We’ll call her 8367. Ms. 8367 was captured on March 31 and was super lucky to receive one of the special GPS collars along with a VIT (vaginal implant transmitter). Maybe this wasn’t so lucky after all.

Ms. 8367 made her home in picturesque Cherry Springs State Park. I believe she knew the park staff by name as she greeted them daily as they made their way to work. Life was good for 8367.

She delivered a healthy fawn on May 30 (which was successfully captured and collared as well) right across from the park entrance! Mom and baby spent their summer hanging at the park and the surrounding state forest enjoying all the area has to offer – picnicking, hiking, star gazing – fun for the whole family.

Ms. 8367 was an expert at navigating the roads in her home range, all 5 of them. Over a 7.5 month period, she crossed a road 1,111 times including guiding her days-old fawn across PA44! In fact, 750 of 1,111 crossings were PA44, the busiest road in the area.

Average annual daily traffic (AADT) for PA44 is 3,247 vehicles. This is for a portion of PA44 just north of Coudersport but it’s close to Cherry Springs and the same road. This may seem like a lot but it is actually 4th lowest when compared to other roads in the same class. Of the 12 other roads monitored, only 3 received less traffic than PA44. The remainder were higher. For example, the AADT for PA49 in Tioga County was 4,335 and PA255 in Clearfield County was 5,438.

Unfortunately, one of those 3,247 vehicles met 8367 on November 13th. Her 750th crossing of PA44 was her last.

Deer-Forest Study

Looking at her jaw and tooth wear she was not a young deer. She was probably at least 5 or 6 years old. She probably crossed PA44 thousands of times over her life. I guess her luck finally ran out.

Ms. 8367’s fawn is still alive and likely has no idea what happened to mom or why she isn’t around anymore. Let’s hope he paid attention when mom was teaching him how to cross the road.

Always be sure to look BOTH ways!

-Jeannine Fleegle, biologist
PGC Deer and Elk Section

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