Avoid deer vehicle collisions during hunting and mating seasons,
All rights reserved (c) 2011-2019 Frania Shelley-Grielen
Deer hunting season began officially in parts of northern New York State in late
September. 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 instead.
- 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 also
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 in the first week of January in Suffolk County and ends in
the beginning of December for parts of northern New York Sate and finishes in the end
of January in 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
Found, R. Boyce, M.S. (2011). Warning signs mitigate deer-vehicle collisions in an Urban
area. Wildlife Society Bulletin; 35 (3): 291
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"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 transport-
ation 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".
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