A west Donegal man said he was lucky there was no traffic coming the night that a stag appeared before him on the back of Errigal road.
He was on his way to Gaoth Dobhair and coming around a bend at about 65 km/hr, below the 80km/hr speed limit, when he saw the stag out of the corner of his eye.
”I literally had 10 feet to do something because I knew he was coming,” he said. “I hit the brakes but I was too late.” His car ended up in the opposite lane, badly damaged on the front passenger side. The stag was dead.
“I pushed the nose (of the jeep) to the other side of the road but he kept coming and there was nothing I could do,” he said. He knows the road well and travels it at all hours. He was also aware of the deer rutting season in October.
“There was nothing I could do,” he said.
Dave Duggan, a regional manager at the National Parks and Wildlife Service at Glenveagh National Park, said the service was aware of two similar incidents on the road in the last weeks but said there had no been any particular spike in the number of collisions with deer.
While October is the height of the rutting season, Dave said, “It’s always an issue no matter what time of year, really.”
He said, “I would urge motorists to take care and drive with due care and prepare for the unexpected.”
Dave has been based in the Glenveagh area for nearly 40 years and said there have always been deer along the road. “They used to be far more plentiful along the road, but it was a more narrow, more twisty road at the time, so you had to drive more slowly,” he said, adding that there probably were not as many collisions as a result.
After the collision with the deer, the west Donegal driver pulled on a pair of gloves and dragged the carcass off the road. He also wondered whether motorists using the road were aware of the potential danger.
“Is the general public aware?” he asked. He suggested there should be signs along the road to alert motorists to the presence of deer. If a vehicle were to hit a full-grown stag, “it must be like hitting a brick wall”, he said.
“The question is: What can be done about it?” he said.
Local independent Cllr. Micheal Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig said he was aware of a few collisions with deer in recent weeks on the back of Errigal road. He said he he would also urge motorists to use caution on the road, but said there is still an issue there that needs to be addressed.
“Us humans and other animals have a right to coexist,” Cllr. Mac Giolla Easbuig said. “Surely we could find alternatives to culling.”