There are a multitude of reasons why people move to Lakewood Ranch.
The schools. The stores. The amenities.
One of the most intriguing facets of life in Lakewood Ranch, though, according to many residents is the proximity to miles and miles of open space. With that open space comes a variety of wildlife not found in other parts of the country.
But like other parts of the country, there is a large population of deer in the area. And with that comes a major problem with deer being hit by drivers.
East County resident Candy Luther saw it firsthand on University Parkway just a few weeks ago.
While driving near Target, she noticed a deer lying on the road. She ran out to try and tend to it as cars zoomed by.
“As I’m standing there waiting for a break in traffic, someone hit it,” she said. “And then another car hits it, and then another car hits it.”
Luther was devastated.
“I literally sat in the parking lot for a half hour before I could start the car and go home,” she said.
Concerned citizens like Luther banded together to address an issue that has seemingly increased during the past few weeks. There have been numerous incidents of deer being struck by cars and subsequently dying.
The group took to the corner of Legacy Boulevard and University Parkway Tuesday night with signs encouraging drivers to slow down and watch for deer and other wildlife that may cross the road.
Terri Wonder, who is currently running for a Manatee County Commission at large seat, helped organize the group.
As a Florida native, she has seen the problems that arise as the area’s population continues to grow.
“The more overpopulated we become, the more difficult it becomes to live with the animals and respect that they’re going to cross our roads,” Wonder said. “We frequently see this, especially out east in Lakewood Ranch, where all of our agricultural lands and cultivated lands meet. We just want to draw attention to the problem and get the traffic to slow down and be mindful of the creatures in the area,” Wonder said. ”
Lakewood Ranch Inter-District Authority Director of Operations Ryan Heise said he has received calls recently for additional deer crossing signs in Lakewood Ranch. Heise is evaluating how many signs the community currently has and will consider adding more signs once a count is complete.