Dozens of Deer Jumping to Their Deaths Off Overpass Near Allegheny National Forest

by Clayton Edwards

Many motorists know that deer can cause all manner of chaos on the road. Sometimes, they freeze in front of cars, other times they bolt into traffic. If everyone involved gets lucky, the deer will find its way off of the road without smashing into a passing car. However, deer have found a no-win situation on an overpass near a small town in northwest Pennsylvania.

Deer are finding their way onto an overpass near the Allegheny National Forest, getting spooked by cars and jumping off of the bridge. So far, about 25 deer have leaped to their deaths on the short stretch of road. Some local residents are disturbed by this and want Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation to step in and do something to stop deer from jumping to their death.

Residents Want PennDOT to Keep Deer off the Overpass

Bill Boylan, a Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania resident told a local CBS affiliate that he’s reached out to PennDOT about the dying deer. He believes that a fence on the hill near the overpass would keep deer from getting on the elevated roadway. However, PennDOT District Executive Tom Zurat isn’t so sure.

He informed the same CBS affiliate that PennDOT only learned of the issue a couple of weeks ago. They’re currently working on a solution. However, they want to be sure that they’re covering all of their bases. “We started taking a look at it, trying to really determine where the deer are coming from,” he said. Zurat went on to say that they needed to be sure that they knew how the deer were making it onto the overpass before erecting fences, nets, or other barriers. “How they are ending up on that bridge is really the problem we’ve got to solve first before we can determine if there’s anything we can do or not.”

Zurat believes that PennDOT will have an answer in the next few weeks.

Would a Fence Help?

Boylan may be correct in his assumption that a fence would keep deer off of the overpass. However, not just any fence will do in this case.

Deer are especially agile creatures. They can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour and jump as high as ten feet. So, any fence would need to be between eight and ten feet tall. On the other hand, deer usually won’t jump over a fence they can’t see through.

According to the University of Vermont, “Out of sight, out of mind, applies to deer with solid wooden fences, or ones with overlapping slats they can’t see through.  Such privacy fences are quite effective, as deer can’t tell what is on the other side.  Even if they can smell what is on the other side, and it’s attractive to them, they can’t be sure that danger isn’t lurking there as well.”

So PennDOT will have to figure out where the deer are coming from. Then, they’ll have to decide what kind of fencing is best for the deer in the area.