Dead Deer Removal Duty Spikes During Rut, Gun Seasons

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It's a lousy job but somebody has to do it — and they're doing it a lot right now: removing dead deer from Ohio highways.

Scott Kish and Mike Coen work for the Ohio Department of Transportation.

They've stopped their pickup truck along US 50 west of Athens.

“Usually we’ll get a call from State Patrol or somebody that there’s a deer on the road and we just come out and pick them up, put them in the truck.  We usually haul them to the landfill,” said Kish.

It's not a pretty sight.

Quite gory, as a matter of fact.

The deer was hit by a motorist, something which happens all too often this time of year.

“A lot of time, this time of the year, when the deer hunters are out they’re running scared and they can come out just about anywhere,” said Coen.

Coen and Kish will be doing this all day and pretty much every day during the gun season for hunting deer.

They're not the only ones.

The chore is shared among other ODOT workers.

“In 2011, State Patrol reported 56 crashes, which was the highest in District 10,” says Shawn Flannery, the ODOT Transportation Administrator for Athens County. “Washington County was second with 54. Since November 1 of this year, we picked up 92 deer to date. It’s pretty average for Athens County for this time of year: deer in rut, the mating season takes place, more deer are active and there are more around the roadways or chasing each other around. Then you follow the rut and gun season rolls in this time of year  and the hunters are pushing deer around. So this time of year, that’s pretty average for us.”

This deer was in the median but sometimes they fall on the highway and Flannery says those get priority because of safety concerns.

The other consideration here is aesthetic.

“We could leave it lay, but I believe that our county should be the best that it can be and we should be able to get out, pick these deer up and make our county look good. It’s an eyesore for the traveling public to drive by and a lot of time you have visitors coming into your county, so you want to keep your county as nice as you can,” said Flannery.

Occasionally deer are found still alive and when that happens, Highway Patrol troopers – who, of course are armed, are called to put them down.