Next time you worry about safety on Montana’s roads, just be glad you’re not a deer or an antelope. (Actually, there are probably lots of reasons to be glad you’re not a deer or an antelope, starting with the possibility of ending up in somebody’s freezer. But bear with me here. It’s Monday.)
This winter’s snow was particularly deep on the Hi-Line and the deer and antelope “migrated to the path of least resistance, and that’s the railroad, unfortunately,” says Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokesman Gus Melonas. The Associated Press recounts the result:
Hundreds of pronghorn antelope and deer have been killed by trains in Montana this winter after herds gathered on tracks to escape deep snows, a state wildlife official says.
Mark Sullivan, of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, said that a train recently killed about 270 pronghorn antelope near Vandalia in northeastern Montana, and 18 deer were found dead on the tracks by a grain elevator near Chinook.
Many antelope not killed by the impact had be destroyed by Blaine County authorities.
“To hunt and shoot animals is just different than shooting wounded animals like that,” Blaine County Undersheriff Pat Pyette told the Great Falls Tribune. “You’re close to it. You can look into their eyes. We see a lot of things, but (the deputy) was sick to his stomach after that.”
Sullivan says the tally is close to 800 animals so far this winter, with a cold and snowy March predicted. Just one more reason to hope that spring gets here in a hurry.
(Image: Billings Gazette/David Grubbs)