Transportation officials in Pennsylvania are investigating a disturbing phenomenon involving a highway bypass where around two dozen deer have leapt to their deaths over the past few years.
“They panic, one jumps off, and they all leap off,” Johnsonburg resident Bill Boylan, who lives near the U.S. 219 bypass told local news station WJAC. He told the news outlet that since he lived near the bypass, “we’ve had 25 deer jump to their death in a populated area.”
The deer leaping off the bypass all appear to be female, fellow resident Julie Padasak told WJAC, calling the situation “disturbing.”
The sad episodes have been “periodic” over the course of several years, Boylan told The Philadelphia Inquirer, but he fears that the sad situation could be dangerous for humans as well. A white-tailed doe typically weighs between 80 and 160 pounds. The distance from the top of the bypass is about 60 feet, Boylan told the Inquirer.
Boylan said he’s been complaining to the the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for years and wants it to do something to prevent the deer from going onto the bypass. PennDOT told WJAC it’s “taking a look” at the situation and hopes to have more information about the root cause of the problem “over the next couple of weeks.”
Deer have been known to jump to their deaths on other human-built structures in the past. In 2005, five deer climbed on top of a five-story parking garage in West Virginia and leapt off.
“They took the plunge,” police Cpl. Steve Cox told The Associated Press at the time. “It was just absolutely weird.”
In 2017, a couple driving in Cedar Rapids, Iowa were horrified to witness a group of four “panicked” deer all vault over a bridge’s barrier, falling 20 to 30 feet to their deaths.
And in 2019, Oklahoma game warden Carlos Gomez, who had to remove the bodies of two deer beneath an overpass, told Tulsa World that deer becoming confused by human structures and leaping to their death likely “happens more than we know.”