New Brunswick

Rise in deer sightings and collisions in Moncton prompts warning

Linda Comeau was driving along Wheeler Boulevard, heading home after running errands on Monday morning, when she suddenly spotted two deer crossing the busy highway.

Moncton woman warns drivers to slow down after she hit a deer on Wheeler Boulevard

Deer biologist Joe Kennedy said the number of deer spotted within Moncton city limits is higher than usual this year and he is concerned someone could be feeding them. (Submitted by Joe Kennedy/DNR)

Linda Comeau was driving along Wheeler Boulevard, heading home after running errands on Monday morning, when she suddenly saw something coming toward her.

"In the corner of my eye I saw two deer coming … from the Centennial Park side of Wheeler," she said.

Comeau was travelling behind a black pickup truck and had started slowing down to take the St. George Boulevard exit.

"It's always your worst nightmare," she said of deer on the road. "How will you react? What will happen? And I don't even know what happened.

"All I know is the first deer crossed in front of the black truck, and then I was hoping that the second deer would follow him."

But the second deer didn't. In the blink of an eye, Comeau hit the fawn with her Subaru sedan as the animal crossed behind the truck and in front of her.

"I pulled over and so did the guy in front of me, and he told me that he saw the deer that hit my car fly over my car … so we both pulled over, looked at our cars for damage and then … he wanted to see if the deer were injured and I felt really badly about that too."

Both deer ran into the woods, according to Comeau.

Are people feeding deer?

Deer biologist Joe Kennedy, who speaks for the Department of Natural Resources, said rangers picked up two dead deer Monday in the City of Moncton. One was a female and one was a young fawn.

Within the city limits, there are usually about 20 "road kill occurrences" of deer each year, Kennedy said.

So far this year, 24 deer have been killed on city roads and the rutting season, which is typically when most deer collisions happen, doesn't begin until November.

"We are just entering the period where there's going to be an increased movement of bucks and does because of the rutting season."

There have been more deer spotted within the City recently, and we're wondering if there's been any feeding occurrences that are drawing deer within the city.- Biologist Joe Kennedy

Kennedy said it's possible the number of deer killed on Moncton roads will be higher than usual this year.

"There have been more deer spotted within the city recently, and we're wondering if there's been any feeding occurrences that are drawing deer within the city," he said.

He said the other explanation for the increased deer sightings is that this is the time that yearlings, who were born in 2017, leave their mothers.

"This could be a case of deer coming into the city, immigrating into the city essentially, looking for new territories. 

No wildlife crossings for urban deer

Dan Hicks, the director of parks for the City of Moncton, said the deer population in Centennial Park is not monitored, but "anecdotally we do know there are some in there."

Hicks said he is not aware of any feeding of deer in public parks.

Moncton parks director Dan Hicks says the city lacks wildlife crossings so deer have to cross busy highways.

"As a city we are blessed with a number of natural shelter belts and large natural parks that allow for habitat of wildlife," Hicks said.

He suspects the deer that Comeau and the truck in front of her collided with were likely travelling along Jonathan Creek, which runs through Centennial Park and across Wheeler.

"That means crossing the very busy streets and highways as there are no true wildlife crossings built to create safe passage."

Hicks said a deer was also hit on Longfellow Drive on Monday, near Moncton High School on the other side of the city.

Linda Comeau was travelling southbound on Wheeler Boulevard/Route 15, when two deer ran in front of her as she was approaching the St. George Boulevard exit. She said the deer came from the direction of Centennial Park. (Google Maps)

Grateful it wasn't worse

Comeau said the bumper and grille on the front of her car were damaged, but the truck in front of her got away with only a scratch.

"I was just so thankful it wasn't a harder impact on the windshield and I was really grateful my dog wasn't in the car too because if the impact had been worse, who knows what would have happened."

Comeau's collision with one of the deer damaged the grille of her vehicle and left behind some fur.

Hitting a deer in the middle of the city, in the middle of the day, was the last thing Comeau expected to happen and she is warning other drivers to keep their eyes peeled for wildlife.

"People are driving so quickly and using that road at rush hour and all throughout the day, and I just wouldn't want it to happen to them, so I just want people to slow down and pass the word."
Vanessa Blanch did some digging after we heard from a listener who hit a deer on Wheeler Blvd. Turns out there are more deer in the city. 7:17

About the Author

Vanessa Blanch is a reporter based in Moncton. She has worked across the country for CBC for nearly 20 years. If you have story ideas to share please e-mail: vanessa.blanch@cbc.ca