May 23, 2006

Three injured in deer encounter at SIUC

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Three pedestrians received minor injuries Tuesday when they encountered a female deer on the campus of Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Todd D. Sigler, director of public safety at SIUC, said police received the report at 1:14 p.m. The incident happened on a footpath that runs along Campus Lake, south of the intersection of Oakland Avenue and Douglas Drive east of the Lesar Law Building.

Police closed the path with barricades and are advising pedestrians to avoid the area until further notice.

The encounter left a 30-year-old SIUC employee with a gash on her forehead that required stitches, Sigler said. The deer also injured a 58-year-old male student who received a scratch to the jaw and refused medical treatment. A 46-year-old SIUC employee also received a sprained wrist and other various cuts and bruises in the process of escaping the deer. He sought medical treatment on his own.

The incident occurred as the University kicks off a multifaceted public education and research effort aimed at keeping the humans and deer on campus safe during fawning season. Female deer may be inclined to act aggressively to humans they perceive as threats to their newborns during this time.

Clay Nielsen, an assistant scientist at the SIUC Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory, is giving a presentation titled, “The Nature of Deer-Human Conflicts: Avoiding Deer-Human Encounters of the Third Kind on Campus,” at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 25, in Room 1059, Life Science III on the SIUC campus.

During last year's fawning season, which runs roughly from late May through the end of June, the University recorded nine such incidents, the majority of which involved female deer acting aggressively toward students and campus employees.

Sigler said pedestrians should be aware of their surroundings as fawning season gets under way.

“We need to be cognizant of wooded areas. That’s where many of the incidents occur, but not all,” Sigler said. “You need to be aware early in the morning and late in the afternoon, as deer tend to be more active then. Also, you need to realize deer can appear anywhere and you may not see them until you’re right on them.

“The best thing to do if you see one is stop immediately and go in the opposite direction,” Sigler said.

Promoting campus safety is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.