A car was engulfed by flames after colliding with a deer on the Don Valley Parkway on Dec. 14, and while none of the car’s passengers were seriously injured, the deer wasn’t so lucky.
With the large green space of the Don Valley being a known deer habitat does this mean drivers will soon have to be dodging deer on a more regular basis?
Not likely, says Constable Hugh Smith of the Toronto Police. In his three years with traffic services Smith has never heard of any other accident involving a deer.
“We do get a lot of small road kill but that’s the first deer that I’ve heard of for me personally,” he said.
Despite its large number of parks and vehicles Toronto had the fourth fewest number of reported wildlife/motor vehicle collisions in 2008, the latest year for which Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation can provide such data. Toronto’s 64 wildlife collisions ranked far behind that of Ottawa — Ontario’s second largest city — which had the second most with 629.
Between 1994 and 2001 there were 37 fatal wildlife collisions in Ontario. Collisions with deer accounted for 70 percent of those deaths.
According to Ralph Toniger, manager of habitat restoration with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, formerly the Don Valley Conservation Authority, the ministry monitors these numbers to make sure wildlife populations are not becoming a problem in any certain location.
“They compile the data and then will assess if there’s enough collisions that it warrants putting up cautionary signs,” he said. “Nowhere in the city right now is there a major concern with that.”
In late-November of 2009 a deer was tasered by Toronto police after it wandered into the downtown core. Toniger said late fall is their mating season or rut.
“During the rut is the peak period for deer collisions,” he said. “That’s when the males have other things on their minds and aren’t paying attention to where they’re going.”
Although the conservation authority does not physically bring any wildlife into the city, Toniger said the environmental clean-ups and habitat creation he oversees has led to more deer moving in to the Don Valley.
“Deer have been in the Don Valley, at least decent deer numbers, for the last seven years or so,” he said.
Significant deer populations have always existed in the upper Don River regions like Richmond Hill and likely made their way down the valley.
“Probably a family unit or a group of deer moved in and they never left,” he said. “They seem to be doing fine down there.”
In order to keep it that way he recommended people appreciate the animals from a distance and not to approach or feed them.
“A fed deer is a dead deer as they say,” he said.
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