In the battle between deer and cars, both lose … but deer lose more
What do deer, fast cars and airplanes in Mono County have in common? They all like to hang out in Long Valley. The deer reside there during drought conditions because there’s more to eat than in the dry Owens Valley, the planes live at the airport and drivers like to speed along the straight stretch of Highway 395 between the Caltrans Maintenance Station and Highway 203. The seven-mile stretch between the junction of 203 and Crowley Lake Drive has the highest rate of deer kills in Caltrans District 9.
Total wildlife mortality in Mono County from 2002-2015 was 1,845. Approximately 91 percent of deer-vehicle collisions (DVC) in Caltrans District 9 occur in Mono County. In a 13-year period, 1,668 DVCs were reported (The Sheet erroneously reported this figure as occuring in a single year on October 8). For all of District 9 during that same time period (District 9 includes Inyo, Mono and Eastern Kern Counties) total wildlife mortality is 2,187. There could be as much as 30 percent unreported DVC, according to Caltrans.
Caltrans District 9 conducted its first engineering and science-based approach using modern technology and analysis to identify deer kills hotspots. Its intent was to study if District 9 has a higher than statewide average of wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVC) and what type of mitigation can be done. The study focuses on the areas in Mono County with the highest concentration of DVCs.
Of the six hotpots identified, the stretch of 395 between Benton Crossing Road and Mt. Morrison Road was the hottest, with an average of 79 DVCs between 2002-2015, or 6.1 per year. Other hotspots include McGee Creek with 55 (4.2 annually); Hot Creek Hatchery with 34 (2.6 per year); Buckeye Road with 58 (4.5 a year); the junction of 203 and 395 with 26, or 2 a year, and Bodie Road with 26, also 2 per year.
The numbers may be skewed, considering not all WVC are reported, or an animal may have been hit but not killed and runs into the brush to die.