Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Deer deaths, shooting of fawn spur call for lower speed limits in East Lake

Signs warning motorists to be on the lookout for deer have not done enough to protect the animals, some activists say.


Signs warning motorists to be on the lookout for deer have not done enough to protect the animals, some activists say.

EAST LAKE — Rita Smekal remembers seeing the fawn, dazed and wobbly after being struck by a car, sit up in the grass near East Lake Drive and Boot Ranch Boulevard.

Smekal, a 63-year-old East Lake resident, pulled over and fought tears. Deep scratches streaked the young doe's front legs. Desperate to get help for the animal, Smekal dialed the numbers of four animal rescue groups, but no one was available just after 8 p.m. Sunday.

So she called an emergency veterinarian and pledged to foot the bill for the fawn's treatment. Then a Pinellas County sheriff's deputy arrived, she said, and stopped her.

Distraught, Smekal climbed back into her car and circled the block. She called her friend, Ronda Musca, a member of the Clearwater Audubon Society.

"Go back, Rita," Musca told her. "Don't let them shoot the deer."

But when Smekal returned, only a streak of blood remained on the pavement at a school bus stop.

The sheriff's deputy reported seeing an injured deer in the middle of East Lake Road on Sunday around 8 p.m. The deer, according to the deputy's report, seemed to be dying. The deputy called a freelance trapper, who, he wrote, "humanely put the animal out of its misery."

During mating season, which runs from October to January, deer bound across major roads in East Lake, often causing wrecks, despite the digital signs placed in the area instructing drivers to slow down. Dozens of deer die each year. Six have died just since Friday.

Musca and another Audubon member, Barbara Walker, are upset and are calling for action.

"We can't keep hitting these deer," Musca said Tuesday. "We can't have officers shooting deer on the side of the road with cars driving by. We can't have blood and brains on our school bus stops."

Musca and Walker want speed limits lowered on East Lake roadways. Musca plans to meet with the Pinellas County Transportation Department on Thursday.

Walker wrote a letter Monday to county officials, including County Commissioner Susan Latvala and Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

"We don't need the wild west out on East Lake Road, with the sheriff's out there having to pull out their GUN and SHOOT!" her letter stated. "Last night a fawn was hit and possibly only stunned. A lady had a vet lined up to look at the deer and euthanize it if necessary, but as far as I know she was told she would be arrested if she took the deer. Baby deer brains splattered the road from the gunshot."

Ideally, Musca and Walker would like to see speeds in the area reduced by 10 miles per hour and a new traffic light added at Crescent Oaks Boulevard to slow down traffic and make the area safer for deer and motorists.

Walker, also a member of the Council of North County Neighborhoods, said her organization will brainstorm ways to raise awareness and spark change at a meeting in January.

"We live in an area with nature reserves, schools, libraries, and there's always a high volume of people on the road," Walker said. "We've got to adapt."

Danielle Paquette can be reached at or (727) 445-4224. To write a letter to the editor, go to

Deer deaths, shooting of fawn spur call for lower speed limits in East Lake 12/18/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 7:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. University student accused of making bomb threat on Snapchat


    DELAND — A Florida university student is accused of making threats on Snapchat to "bomb" or "gas" the campus.

    Stetson University freshman Griffin Powell, 18, is accused of making threats on Snapchat to "bomb" or "gas" the campus in DeLand.

  2. Tiki Barber will join his brother, Ronde, on Fox broadcast for Bucs-Giants


    FOX announced Monday night that former Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber will have a familiar face joining him as a guest analyst for the Oct. 1 Bucs-Giants game in Tampa: his twin brother Tiki, who will join …

    Tiki Barber, right, will join his brother, Ronde, left, as a guest analyst on the Oct. 1 Bucs-Giants broadcast on FOX. [Times files (2006)]
  3. Cannons will fire again when Bucs return to Raymond James Stadium


    As good as the Bucs looked in their season-opening 29-7 win against the Bears on Sunday, fans couldn't help but notice that the success didn't sound the same at Raymond James Stadium.

     Ron Gutschmidt is perched on top of the Buccaneer pirate ship ready to activate the ship's cannons with the press of a button after a Buccaneer touchdown. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
  4. Rick and Tom podcast: How should Joe Maddon be remembered tonight?

    The Heater

    Rick Stroud and Tom Jones talk about Joe Maddon's return to Tropicana Field for the first time since he left the Rays in 2014 in the latest edition of our Rick and Tom podcast. They discuss the mixed emotions …

    Joe Maddon returns to Tropicana Field tonight for the first time since he left the Rays in 2014. [Getty Images]
  5. Watch live: President Trump's speech to the U.N. General Assembly


    UNITED NATIONS — U.S. President Donald Trump and French leader Emmanuel Macron are expected to take the spotlight at the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations — but it's the tough global challenges from the nuclear threat in North Korea and the plight of Myanmar's minority Muslims to the …

    President Donald Trump shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron during a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, in New York. [Associated Press]