Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Watch out for those deer, Metro

September 1, 2011 - 09:09 AM
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No Metro for you, Bambi. (Photo: flickr/lisaw123)

This week, WMATA faced off against one tough customer — a deer.

The Green Line experienced delays Monday evening due to a deer that wandered onto the tracks, apparently near Prince Georges Plaza. Deer are especially near and dear to all our hearts lately thanks to Bob Barker's plea for deer safety. I'd never imagined Bambi on the Metro tracks before, but the notion certainly made sense once I considered it. I called Metro to see if the transit agency had more details.

I mean seriously! A deer! How does that even happen? You got some 'splaining to do #wmata!less than a minute ago via Twitterrific Favorite Retweet Reply

"It does happen occasionally," WMATA's information specialist Cathy Asato told me. Deer live in the wooded areas near the surface-level Metro tracks, and every now and then, they grow curious about what those WMATA trains really are. Sometimes they investigate too closely. Asato remembers one time at what she believes was Addison Road Metro station when a deer actually got as far as the platform and escalators before darting back into the trees. It was during a snowy winter season, so people wryly joked that a reindeer was on the loose.

WMATA spokesperson Dan Stessel expanded on the question of deer and confirmed that a deer had walked onto the Green Line tracks this week. But the deer wasn't struck by a train on Monday, he said. The animal was just curious.

"It happens from time to time — on the Green Line, especially," Stessel said.

The DC deer go too hard. "Delay on the Green Line towards Branch Ave. because there is a deer on the track outside of PG Plaza." #smh #wmataless than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry® Favorite Retweet Reply

WMATA doesn't track deer numbers, according to Stessel, but he estimates that Metrorail trains encounter one or two deer a month, though the animals are struck less frequently than that. A deer is struck about once every two months, Stessel guesses. Usually if an animal finds itself on the tracks, Metro cautions trains in the area to slow down to avoid plowing into it if at all possible.

"It's not uncommon," Stessel said about the deer's presence, "but it's not common either."

The amount of fencing that surrounds Metrorail tracks helps reduce the issue of deer intruding, the spokesperson added. He's known deer to be a greater problem in other transit systems, where fencing doesn't keep nature quite so at bay.

There is a deer on the Green Line tracks and the PID signs have no train arrival info, even online. #wmataless than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone Favorite Retweet Reply

Just saw a herd of deer grazing on the side of the road by a metro station at least 20!!less than a minute ago via Twitterrific Favorite Retweet Reply

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