Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Deer on the Beltway

I've read somewhere that there are now more deer in this country than there were when the first Europeans landed. Our modern emphasis on the production of corn is partly to blame. The deer themselves have evolved to survive almost anywhere, feasting on corn and garden crops in the country and plants and flowers in the suburbs.

Over the years, we've seen an occasional deer lying dead at the side of the Washington Beltway, a busy highway that sometimes widens to six lanes. I'd always assumed these run-over animals had somehow strayed from some large, wooded suburban tract.

Yesterday my husband and I travelled westward along the northern arc of the Beltway, between U.S. Route One and I-270, which links Washington, DC to  I-70 at Frederick, MD. Very busy roads, all of them. To my surprise, I counted no fewer than 5 deer foraging in a narrow wooded strip between the Beltway and a high cement barrier running parallel to the Beltway, about 100 feet from the edge of the road. This strip, less than 5 miles long, lies between Maryland Route 29 (Colesville)  and Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring. How can so many deer survive in such a tiny space?