Thinning the herd, deer removal improving safety in Sioux Falls

Published: Feb. 10, 2020 at 10:51 PM CST
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Just a few years ago, crashes appeared routine along Interstate-229 and Rice Street. They were not the usual fender benders caused by traffic or elements but the culprit, or culprits, were instead an overwhelming presence of deer. Those incidents have decreased over the last six years thanks in part to the annual deer harvest within city limits. The goal is to reduce property damage and improve the health of the deer population.

Between 2013 and 2014, 128 crashes occurred along Interstate-229 and Rice Street. After the deer removal process began in 2015-2016, it helped lead to 15 fewer crashes and the following year resulted in 86 crashes.

"The years that we have been doing this program, the number of deer hit on those interstates and on the highways that we keep track of, the number has gone down," said Sioux Falls Animal Control Supervisor Julie DeJong. "We think it's really making a difference as far as making it safer on the roadways for our motorist."

48 deer have been removed this year with 22 left on this year's permit; however, DeJong says there are still quite a few deer on the interior areas of the interstate.

While the hunt has its own benefits, there has been a direct impact on food banks in the community. The meat from the deer has gone to Renner to be processed and redistributed. Last year was around 1,500 pounds worth of meat to be handled and the workload for this year is not dropping off.