Large jump in number of roe deer traffic accidents, despite culls

Roe Deer.
Roe Deer. Source: Roos

Despite large-scale culls, traffic accidents involving roe deer in Estonia continue to rise.

Close to 5,000 road traffic accidents involving the species, which stands a little less than a meter tall when full-grown, happened in 2019, BNS reports, with close to 1,000 of these in the most populous region, Harju County.

Other counties with significant numbers (in the hundreds) of roe deer road strikes included Pärnu County, in the southwest of the country, and the southeastern counties of Tartu and Põlva counties. The bulk of such accidents would have led to fatalities, in the case of the deer.

While the figure was around a ten percent rise on the previous year, the biggest increase happened compared with 2017, where less than 3,000 such incidents involving roe deer were recorded.

Reasons for this were cited as being the large number of roe deer, and also an intensity of traffic – though no figures were reported to back up either assertion.

On the other hand, the number of roe deer either culled or otherwise killed by hunters reached its highest level ever in the 2019/20 season, according to Tõnis Korts of the Estonian hunter's society (Jahimeeste Selts).

Korts said over 30,000 roe deer had been killed, and that the practice would be likely to continue for as long as road strikes were a common occurrence.

"The aim of contemporary hunting is regulation of the wild game population to reduce damage caused by wild game, diseases and the number of traffic accidents," Korts said.

"I would like to hope that with intensive hunting, we can reduce the number of accidents involving roe deer in the future."

Roe deer are not the only wild animals to come to grief on Estonia's roads.

Over 200, much-larger Elk were killed in traffic accidents over the same period last year, though just under 30 of these were killed on the railway lines, BNS reports, in addition to close to 20 elks being able to flee after being struck by a vehicle.

Just over 100 traffic accidents involving wild boar took place last year, according to BNS, with a handful involving the much shier wolves, bears and lynx. Insurers have generally been reporting a rise in traffic accident claims involvind wildlife strike.

In the case of larger animals like elk being struck by traffic, the bodies will usually be left at the roadside for collection by the authorities.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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