Avoid deer vehicle collisions during hunting and mating seasons,
copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen all rights reserved
Deer hunting season began officially in parts of northern New York State on September
27th. Deer mating or rutting season also begins in the fall, spanning October through
January with the most activity in mid November. Rutting season for the deer means a
lot of movement making this time of year a dangerous time to get around with hunting
and vehicle traffic posing the biggest threats. Depending on the encounter: arrow,
bullet or car can be fatal for deer and humans. An October 2011 article in the Wildlife
Society Bulletin noted that 90% of highway collisions end in deer fatalities with 65% of
the collisions resulting in human injury. Know how to avoid accidents with deer:
- Research shows that paying attention when driving at deer crossings is the key
to safety. Extreme caution should be exercised when the deer are the most
active and visibility is the poorest: dawn and from dusk to midnight.
- Deer behavior becomes more variable during rutting season and a buck chasing
a doe is frequently the victim in animal-vehicle crashes. Drivers may see one
deer crossing the road and be unaware or unprepared for the enamored suitor in
hot pursuit. Male deer (bucks) chasing female deer (does) will literally not look
before they leap.
- Deer also travel in family groups and young deer are less savvy around road
crossings. Studies show that slowing down can reduce the number of collisions
up to 50%.
- If you do see a deer while driving, slow down and lean on your horn if possible to
frighten the deer away. Do not hit the horn repeatedly as this may cause the
deer to panic.
- Be aware of rutting season as well as the height of winter when food becomes
sparse and deer expand their foraging range, both times require higher
vigilance to avoid accidents.
- If you hit a deer try not to swerve off the road or into other lanes. Studies have
shown that human deaths hardly ever come from contact with the deer rather
they occur when drivers try and avoid the deer and run off the road or fall off
motorcycles (motorcycle riders account for about half of human losses in this
type of accident).
- A deer that has been killed or injured by a car should not be approached. If the
deer is still alive it will be stressed and frightened, touching the animal will
cause greater stress and may cause it to try and defend itself. Call for help
- Before removing a dead deer from the scene of an accident a permit for the
animal is required from an investigating officer at the scene.
- Most deer meat is safe to eat but not all. Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is
present in deer in certain areas of New York State. In affected areas it is illegal
to be given or possess a permit for deer. For more information on affected areas
go to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) website.
Research shows that posted deer crossing signs do reduce driver speed and significantly
reduce the number of collisions. The same studies also show that over 75% of Canadian
and US transportation agencies hardly ever use deer crossing signs consistently or
when installing new work projects. More strategically placed signage is an effective
and relatively inexpensive fix for agencies, deer and drivers.
Deer hunting season begins on January 9th in Suffolk County and ends on December
4th for parts of northern New York Sate and January 31st for Suffolk County. There is
no hunting allowed in Nassau County or in New York City. For more information on
specific dates and locations visit the New York State DEC website.
Found, R. Boyce, M.S. (2011). Warning signs mitigate deer-vehicle collisions in an
Urban area. Wildlife Society Bulletin; 35 (3): 291
"Research shows that posted deer
crossing signs do reduce driver
speed and significantly reduce the
number of collisions. The same
studies also show that over 75% of
Canadian and US transportation
agencies hardly ever use deer
crossing signs consistently or when
installing new work projects.
More strategically placed signage
is an effective and relatively
inexpensive fix for agencies, deer