Deer are creatures of habit. Seasons, time of day, and weather patterns all play an essential part in their routine. Wild creatures will continue to travel the trails of their ancestors long after these trails have been cut through by roads, fences, and parcels of private property.
While deer instantly recognize the immediate threat of a wild or human predator and will flee to safety, they have no concept of an approaching vehicle as a threat to life. Crossing a road or highway from a wooded sanctuary or field to reach water, a grove lush with fruit, or a vineyard filled with tempting green leaves, is simply one more step to survival. They cannot understand the human concept of danger. Unaware of their vulnerability, they will continue to put themselves at risk. A low fence bordering a dangerous crossing, such as those seen along Highway 12 at Oakmont, will not deter a deer. The hills of Annadel and the nearby Santa Rosa Creek have been cut through by this very hazardous double highway. The same problems occur along Montgomery Road, Summerfield Road, and throughout the county. But these hazards are only one small obstacle along a path they must follow to survive. They know no other way. Wild animals have traveled these paths for centuries and will continue to do so until all access is blocked.
Honking horns and sonic whistles do not mean danger to any wild creature. They don’t understand these sounds are coming from an approaching vehicle, they are simply in the air. An animal will often stop in the middle of the road to focus on these confusing sounds. They are useless and dangerous. Therefore, it’s up to us as humans, who do not recognize these life-threatening risks to both wildlife and humans, to warn the public of the potential danger caused by these natural wildlife crossings. Deer crossing signs are an excellent beginning. The we must educate the public to heed these warnings and perhaps save their own lives.
Since this is a public safety issue, as well as a wildlife issue, Fawn Rescue is grateful to the Sonoma County Road Department for playing an important role in providing these warnings. They are badly needed in many areas of the county. Usually the caring public will locate these hazardous spots even before we do, and will request the installation of these deer crossing warnings. We will continue to do our part in trying to educate.
by Marjorie Davis