Motorists are reminded to watch for deer along roadways this time of year because juvenile animals are dispersing from their home ranges.
October through early December is the peak period for deer-vehicle accidents. Motorists are advised to slow down and exercise caution after dark to reduce the likelihood of encounters with deer. Most deer-vehicle accidents occur primarily at dawn and dusk when deer are most often moving around.
Motorists should be aware of warning signs signaling deer are in the area. When you see one deer cross the road, look for a second or third deer to follow. Also, pay attention on roadways posted with deer crossing caution signs.
Deer-vehicle accidents are at times unavoidable. If an accident does happen, law enforcement authorities do not have to be notified if only the vehicle is damaged. However, if the accident involves personal injury or other property damage, then it must be reported.
In addition, a permit is required before taking possession of a road-killed deer. Permits are free and available from game wardens and local law enforcement.
A few precautions can minimize chances of injury or property damage in a deer-vehicle crash:
- Always wear your seat belt.
- Don’t swerve or take the ditch to avoid hitting a deer. Try to brake as much as possible and stay on the roadway. Don’t lose control of your vehicle or slam into something else to miss the deer. You risk less injury by hitting the deer.
- If you spot deer ahead, slow down immediately and honk your horn.
Leier is an outreach biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.