Deer more deadly than bears [Editorial]

They're wild animals that can grow to as much as 300 pounds, though an adult is typically between 110 and 200 pounds. Though they're not as large as black bears, which can top out at 600 pounds, they're more deadly than all types of North American bear.

On top of that, the woods and fields of Harford County are crawling with them.

They are white-tailed deer, an animal known to some for being delicious, to others as being cute but to the Insurance Journal, a publication catering to insurance professionals, they're known for causing about 200 human deaths a year, not to mention $4 billion in vehicle damage. In all, the journal estimated there were 1.23 million accidents involving deer between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012.

Statistically speaking, bears are practically harmless compared to deer. In the first 140 years after it was opened – the period spanning 1872 to 2011 – Yellowstone National Park was the scene of seven deadly bear attacks. Nationally, it is estimated that the average number of deadly black bear attacks on people is slightly less than one.

Of course, deer don't attack people. Instead, they're notoriously bad at – or careless about – crossing the street. They dart into traffic. They're erratic and fast. At night, when they stop in a roadway, they become mesmerized like, well, a deer caught in the headlights of a car.

The thing that makes deer so deadly, as opposed to other wild things with lackluster street crossing skills like opossums, is deer are big and when they're struck by a vehicle the result is generally a lot of damage, and occasionally death. Death, unfortunately, was the result last week when the driver of a scooter ended up in a collision with a deer on the Bel Air Bypass. Similarly, death was the result a few months back on Route 23 when one car hit a deer, which went flying through the windshield of a truck, killing one of the truck's occupants.

Deer will not become more careful about crossing the roads, so it is incumbent on everyone who gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle to be on the lookout for these potentially deadly creatures, regardless of the time of year. If nothing else, being on the lookout for surprise deer encounters will result in more vigilant and safer driving all around.

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