Pennsylvania Wildlife Misery: Deer Leap to Their Deaths From Overpass; Transit Officials to Offer Solution

Pennsylvania means “Penn’s Woods. ” The state has been forested and ripe for hunting and wildlife viewing since before Daniel Boone. Today, wildlife officials in the state are wrestling with a significant problem.

Whitetail Deer. Illustration from Pennsylvania Game Commission

The current estimate is that about two dozen white-tailed deer have leaped off a 219 Freeway overpass. The overpass is in Elk County near the town of Johnsonburg Borough. The Borough has about 3000 residents. The deer weigh up to 150 pounds. The falling deer are a hazard to people in the area as some are falling in populated areas. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is being urged to solve the problem quickly. The department says it they will have an answer in a few weeks.

Elk County is in the northwestern part of the state.

Apparently the deer find themselves on the overpass and, startled by oncoming traffic, flee, only to fall to their deaths. Residents have suggested barriers, fencing and other ways to keep them off the overpass. The transportation department says that it needs to find what draws them to the overpass in the first place prior to implementing solutions.

snowplow removing snow near fence
Snowplows clearing Pennsylvania roads are also part of the problem in Elk County.Photo by Алекке Блажин on

Meanwhile residents say an even bigger threat is the debris that launches off the overpass when snowplows clear the road. They are asking the state to control that problem, too.

Nationwide the death and damage toll directly associated with vehicle and deer interactions is staggering. An estimated 1.5 million car accidents take place each year involving deer and about 200 people die in the carnage,

Locally hundreds of mountain lions and black bears are killed in California in traffic accidents. A recent five-year study counted 557 bears and 300 cats killed on California roads. Conservationists hope that the Liberty Canyon overcrossing will help. The multi-year project is expected to break ground soon. The overcrossing has two purposes. It is hoped it will help end the killing of animals by cars in that area. It is also hoped the corridor will allow animals free travel, to help reduce inbreeding.

close up photo of a brown cougar
Mountain lions are being closely studied in the Santa Monica Mountains and roadway deaths are a serious casue of mortality Photo by Andrew Patrick on

Published by ursusrising

long time writer and editor living in Los Angeles

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