I was headed into a pristine snow-capped Pacific Northwest mountain range today when I came upon an accident waiting to happen.

I slammed on the brakes when I noticed two young deer shoving their noses through barbed wire looking very much like they wanted to jump the fence.

But it wasn’t the barbed wire fence that foreshadowed danger.

It was the highway they were trying to cross.

Mount Baker Highway, a winding two-lane road leading out of Bellingham, is known for its two contradictory characteristics: beautiful scenery, and gruesome accidents.

The last time I traveled this route, it was barricaded because of a terrible accident. I took the wrong detour and came up a back road, only to find myself smack in the middle of a horrifying car crash scene. It was like something out of the evening news. Glass, twisted metal and blood were what I saw as I soaked up the sights of what was left from the three-car high-speed demolition derby.

This time, I thought it was going to be the deer who ended up as casualties of this twisted mountain highway

I stopped my car in the middle of the road and hit the flashers. I stepped out and motioned cars, trucks and semi-trailers to stop dead. To my surprise, they waited patiently.

When I get into an animal rescue situation, I try to anticipate how the animals will react. I stood a distance away, waiting to see what the deer would do next.

I didn’t want to frighten them into the road. Nor did I want to drive them back if they preferred to cross. If they needed to get over, I wanted to be there to stop the cars that could potentially hit them.

The two deer eventually decided against crossing and ran away, taking flight through the field like two nimble Springboks. When I finally drove off, I still felt uneasy. I didn’t know whether these deer had it in their minds that they needed to cross the road, or if it was just a whim.

I’ll never know. But I do know this: they didn’t die on my watch today.

And that will have to be enough. 

This deer was the one most determined to cross. I motioned traffic to pass slowly, and they did. He had trouble jumping the barbed wire fence.


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Carreen Maloney can be reached at carreen@fuzzytown.com.