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Published April 16, 2009, 07:51 AM

Our View: Keep trying to rid S.D. roads of deer

The reflector system that’s in place along Interstate 90 doesn’t appear to be making a great dent in the number of car-deer crashes at the site, according to the state Department of Transportation.
True, there isn’t much proof yet that the system isn’t working, either, but we aren’t optimistic.

The reflector system that’s in place along Interstate 90 doesn’t appear to be making a great dent in the number of car-deer crashes at the site, according to the state Department of Transportation.

True, there isn’t much proof yet that the system isn’t working, either, but we aren’t optimistic.

The system was put in place in September 2007 and includes long lines — stretching for miles — of reflectors placed alongside the roadway on Interstate 90. The devices are designed to reflect light from a vehicle’s headlights and into the eyes of a deer, discouraging the animal from crossing the road.

Just west of Mitchell, the reflectors are quite obvious.

Well, to drivers anyway. It appears the great herds of deer that congregate in the region haven’t been so observant.

Although the cost of the reflectors — also placed on a stretch near Sioux Falls — was nearly $89,000, true and positive results have not yet been realized. A recent study showed that reported cardeer collisions in those areas were down slightly, but the number of dead deer found at the sites rose slightly. The latter could be a more realistic way to judge accident numbers, since it’s quite conceivable that not all car-deer collisions are reported to authorities.

South Dakota’s large deer population is great for hunters, but it’s a dangerous burden for drivers. As recently as 2005, approximately a third of this state’s car crashes were attributed to a vehicle hitting an animal.

Whereas the reflector system that’s been installed on I-90 near here appears to be a dud, we hope the DOT and the state Department of Game, Fish and Parks continues its efforts to keep deer off South Dakota’s roadways. Any and all ideas should be explored in hopes of saving human lives in the coming years.

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