Lileks: Bambi dies, a stadium gets built

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 6, 2011 - 5:28 PM

Factor in round trips to work and school, add weekend errands and our family makes 10 vehicle trips per week, or about 500 per year. Number of deer we have hit: 0.

You ask: Are you sure? Pretty much, yes. When a deer is struck, everyone involved is aware of the event. It's not as if you pick antlers out of the grille when you're in the garage and think, "Now, how did that happen?"

I don't know anyone who's hit a deer lately, but obviously it occurs: A new study projects that more than 33,000 deer were sent to their maker during the past year by auto accidents in Minnesota. Before you ask, "Were they buckled up?" that's deer doing what the kids might call derpin across the highway when the semi came 'round the bend.

Thirty-three thousand! Q: Why did the deer cross the road? A: It didn't. Never made it.

Not to make light of the thing it appears I'm making light of, because it's dangerous and traumatic. It just seems like a lot of deer, that's all.

Where did the number come from? State Farm, which either is planning to offer special deer-collision rates to motorists or life insurance policies to deer. Its study says you have a 1 in 98 chance of hitting a deer. Put that in perspective: You have a slightly better chance of completing a pass if you're a Vikings quarterback.

Worst odds are in West Virginia, where people apparently can't back out of the driveway without bumping off Bambi: There, you have a 1 in 58 chance.

I fail to understand how North Dakota can have a 1-out-of-107 rate, because there aren't any trees. You can see a deer a mile away. Unless they're hiding behind oil derricks and jumping out at the last moment.

We're heading into peak collision season, too: It gets worse in November. Deer are in the mating mode and have other things on their minds besides "Look both ways."

But before you think this will mean an imminent deer shortage, compare: In 2009, the DNR said that the number of deer "harvested" by Minnesota hunters was about 150,000. (I hate that word "harvested" -- makes you think of a farmer in the fields with a scythe, gathering up the Crop of Deer he tended over the long summer months. The does are as high as an elephant's eye! Anyone ever offer you some deer sausage and say, "It's harvest fresh"? No.)

The most deer ever shot in a year was 290,000 in 2003, almost 10 times the mow-down rate. There are about a million deer in the state, so we have spares and then some -- the total U.S. deer population was down to 300,000 in 1930, but conservation efforts brought them up to 30 million. If they were people, they would have 42 representatives in Congress. And one of them would introduce a 5- mph maximum speed limit. Probably get it passed, with enough goring in the cloakroom.

You ask: As much as we're all admiring how you're padding this out by riffing on statistics, is there anything else? Why, yes. Yes, there is. While researching this piece -- yes, I did get out of the office to do it; using Google via Wi-Fi at a coffee shop counts, right? -- I came across an interesting statistic from last summer's paper.

"After testing more than 33,000 deer over eight years, chronic wasting disease still hasn't been found in Minnesota's wild deer herd. The latest batch of deer tested were 2,685 killed by hunters last fall in southeastern Minnesota. Another 28 deer from other parts of the state were tested because they showed signs of an illness. None tested positive for CWD, the fatal brain disease."

Well, I'm sure that number -- 33,000 -- is just a tidy coincidence. Or something went horribly wrong, and they're not telling us about it.

Think about it. How concerned can they really be about chronically wasted deer? Does anyone sit around the DNR and say, "We've heard reports of deer unable to count to three. There might be something wrong with their brains." No.

Maybe "testing" was a code name for implanting cerebral-stimulation units in the brain to see if the deer could be remotely controlled by satellite to do something against their will, something they would otherwise never do.

If successful, it would be gradually rolled out to the human population, because that's about the only way they'll ever get everyone to agree to taxpayer money for a stadium.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858 More daily at www.startribune.com/popcrush.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Countdown to great deals

Bid Sept. 21-29

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close