Deer are migrating downward into the lower Sierra foothills because of sudden changes in the weather. Last week’s cold storm buried much of their food supply in snow.
“They’ve been motivated to move down in a hurry because of the freezing temperatures we’ve had, especially up in the higher elevation, to get down into the lower elevation, where they have food availability and lower temperatures,” explained Lt. Patrick Foy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
With herds now concentrated in the lower foothills, and short daylight hours limiting visibility this time of year, deer and cars are frequently crossing paths.
“We have had an increase in vehicle versus deer collisions over the last couple of weeks in particular,” said Foy.
“The damage can range from something as simple to just a bumper to five, six, seven, eight-thousand dollars worth of damage,” said Mike Smith of Stymeist Auto Body in Placerville where technicians are currently repairing about 15 vehicles that have deer damage.
“Simply slow down,” advised Foy. “That’s the number one thing you can do for the benefit of the deer, and certainly for the benefit of public safety.”
Foy also advises people to leave injured and dead wildlife alone. Anyone who sees an injured deer alive in the road is advised to call 9-1-1 and allow local authorities to determine the best course of action. As for dead dear, road maintenance crews are trained to remove them.