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Deer killed as they seek food near roads

December 06, 2007|Jennifer Delson | Times Staff Writer

Deer foraging for food after the recent wildfires are being killed in record numbers by automobiles because they are leaving the denuded hills and approaching roads, animal care officials said Wednesday.

Motorists have killed 21 deer in Orange County canyon areas since the Santiago fire in October, said Ryan Drabek, spokesman for Orange County Animal Care Services. That brings the number of injuries and deaths this year to 85, compared to 59 in 2006 and 40 in 2005.

The deer "have lost their habitat, and they don't know where to go," Drabek said.

California Highway Patrol officials Wednesday received several calls about deer standing on the northbound Foothill Tollway.

By the time patrol cars arrived on the toll way, just south of Santiago Canyon Road, the animals were gone, CHP spokeswoman Denise Quesada said.

Deer can create major problems for motorists.

Crashing into one can cause injuries or death for those in the car, she said. Damage to vehicles is often severe.

Drabek warned motorists in the areas of Santiago and Modjeska canyons to be on the alert and to drive slowly.

"It's something we need to adjust to for the next couple of months as vegetation grows back," he said.

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