Science

In Defense of the Deer That Crashed Through a Salon Window

The video is deranged. The scene starts out peacefully enough, in a Long Island hair salon called Be.you.tiful, with one man in a chair getting a trim while another woman sits on the couch waiting for her turn. And then, an enormous deer (a buck, actually, with huge antlers) careens through the glass, jumps over the waiting couch, and disappears from view. There are about 10 panicked seconds when the three startled humans scream and exclaim while also checking on one another, and then everyone starts to panic again as the deer, still out of view, turns back toward them. Soon it careens back out the front of the shop, this time blasting through the (also glass) door, with a hair straightener hanging from its neck.

“It was huge,” Jenisse Heredia, who owns the Lake Ronkonkoma, New York, salon where the incident took place, told the New York Times. She was the stylist giving the man a trim: “I was freaking out,” she said. That part is obvious, thanks to the aforementioned video, which comes from the salon’s security footage, and which went viral over the weekend once local news stations picked it up.

The deer’s incursion into the Be.you.tiful salon is alarming. The video is legitimately terrifying. It should be: Deer are America’s deadliest animal. Not because they are naturally aggressive killers or anything—it is clear from this video that the deer is as freaked out about what’s happening as the people are. Deer are dangerous because there are way too many of them, and there is not enough space for them to live safely. So they end up in places they shouldn’t be, like on roads and in Harlem, blundering around and causing havoc. And not just havoc: In 2016, deer-related accidents killed 120 people, way more than any other type of animal (the 2017 stats are similar). Even when these collisions aren’t deadly, they’re costly—the average insurance claim for a hitting a deer (or being hit by a deer) is $3,995.

This is not the deer’s fault; it’s ours. The reason there are so many deer bounding about in the Northeast is because we have completely obliterated their natural predators, cougars, hunting them because they were a danger to us and our farm animals (we also transformed cougars’ habitat into suburbia). So now there’s nothing to keep deer in check—humans aren’t hunting them in anywhere close to great enough numbers, and other attempts to limit their populations, most notably by giving them birth control, have not been cost-efficient or particularly effective.

It’s not surprising that we humans have not found an effective way to stop a massive population from continuing to reproduce as if it still had real predators. It’s more surprising that we continue not to realize the massive impact we have on so many parts of the environment when we build our houses and sculpt our lawns and disrupt entire food chains without much thought to what will happen in the long term. A bewildered deer slamming into a hair salon on a Saturday afternoon is one consequence. Our manipulation of the earth without a second thought to the ripple effects it has is not good for us, and it is not good for the animals, two statements that can basically be said about most of the things we are doing to the planet right now. Just be-you-tiful.