Oh, deer!


POSTED: Tuesday, September 29, 2009

In Hawaii, you are more likely to have a deer-in-the-headlights expression than see and hit an actual deer standing fight-or-flight-frozen in your headlights, according to auto insurer State Farm.

Its study released yesterday finds that Hawaii drivers have the lowest deer collision frequency in the U.S., with one in 9,931 drivers likely to hit a deer in the next 12 months. That's a far sight better than for drivers in West Virginia, which tops the State Farm list at one in every 39 drivers.

Deer-versus-vehicle collisions in the U.S. cause more than 150 driver fatalities each year and average property damage of $3,050 per crash, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

In Hawaii, there are axis deer on Maui, Molokai and Lanai, and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources issues permits for hunting them.

They were introduced to Hawaii in the 1960s specifically for hunting, said Deborah Ward, DLNR public information officer.

“;With a valid state hunter's license, they can be hunted on each island,”; she said.

“;On Lanai, hunters are selected by lottery for assigned hunt times in the public hunting area, (while) on Molokai and Maui, hunters may hunt on public hunting areas, and on private lands with permission from the landowner.”;

There are an estimated 2,839 axis deer on Maui this year, down from the more than 4,300 estimated last year, Ward said.

The smaller figure is only the estimated population of the survey area, encompassing the slopes of Haleakala between Omaopio Road and Kanaio.

The DLNR Web site indicates Kauai has black-tail deer, for which it also issues hunting permits.

A Hawaii driver — specifically, a driver on the Big Island — is more likely to hit a donkey than a deer.

Donkey-crossing signs are posted on Queen Kaahumanu Highway (Route 19) in the Kaupulehu area north of Kailua-Kona and on the more mauka Waikoloa Road. Not native to Hawaii, the burros were introduced as work animals for the coffee industry and became feral over time.

While the Hawaii County Police Department tracks motor vehicle crashes, it does not keep separate statistics on how many involve donkeys, which usually die in such vehicle-versus-equine encounters.

Late last year, two such collisions totaled a Jeep Grand Cherokee and caused $9,000 damage to a new Ford F-150 truck. Both donkeys died, according to news reports.

Michigan is advising motorists not to “;veer for a deer,”; according to a Bloomberg News service story on the State Farm report.

Drivers “;end up going off the road and hitting a fixed object like a tree or a pole,”; said Bob Felt, spokesman for Michigan's transportation department.

The Big Island version of the Michigan warning might be, “;Don't go wonky for a donkey,”; but that's certainly not an official state or county slogan and is not likely to become one, either.


A hui hou, Uncle Sam!

So-called “;thirsty music”; just won't sound the same, now that “;Uncle”; Sam Kapu has retired from KINE-FM 105.1.

Star-Bulletin colleague Jason Genegabus got to talk story with the entertainment business and radio veteran, and you can read all about it in Friday's HILife section.


Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Reach her by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).