Officials in Ford County, Illinois hardly expected something as small as a deer crossing sign to make national headlines, but once it did, they knew that somebody might try to snatch it. Novelty deer crossing signs that read “suicidal deer” are not anything new, but when officials installed one of the signs in Ford County, Illinois, people took notice.
“A lot of people see it,” Button Township Highway Commissioner Ron Hilligoss told the Ford County Record. “If you ask anybody where a deer crossing sign is, they couldn’t tell you, but they know where that one is at.”
Hilligoss was the one who introduced the idea at a Ford County Highway Department meeting, and the first one was installed just a half-mile from his house. The idea behind the amusing sign was simple: it attracted more attention that regular deer crossing signs, so motorists would be more likely to remember it. Hilligoss said that the county was about to install more of the signs, but was waiting to see if anybody would steal or vandalize the sign.
Sure enough, Hilligoss says it is now probably hanging on someone’s wall. The sign was taken from its location late Friday night.
“Somebody needed it for their man cave,” Hilligoss told The News-Gazette. “And if I put up another one, someone else will steal it so they can get one just as good as his buddy.”
The highway commissioner says he will likely scrap the idea to put up the other signs, or at the very least, wait until next year right before deer season. Hilligoss says he had also been contacted by several residents saying that the sign was insensitive towards those who had a family member or friend commit suicide, but he said that was not the intention.
“People just stretched the word ‘suicidal,’ but it had nothing to do with human suicide,” Hilligoss said. “So what started out as a real positive thing ended up being real negative.”
In any event, describing deer as suicidal is not very accurate as well. Deer are crepuscular animals, meaning they are primarily active during twilight and their eyes are fully dilated to catch as much light as possible. Bright lights, such as headlights, will effectively blind the animal until their eyes can adjust. Unfortunately, this causes them to remain still—which is dangerous to both the deer and motorists.