The Washington Times-Herald

October 22, 2013

Motorists told to look out for deer

By Mike Grant Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald

---- — Traffic accidents involving deer are beginning to pile up in and around Daviess County. Authorities are reporting the county has a healthy deer population this year, at least until they run into the road and are struck by a vehicle.

“We are seeing a real uptick in car-deer accidents right now,” said Daviess County Chief Deputy Gary Allison. “We had one morning recently with 4 or 5 of those collisions and several of the vehicles were badly damaged.”

Nationally, there are 2.3 million vehicle-deer accidents per year, and 200 of them result in people getting killed. West Virginia has the largest number of accidents. Indiana ranks 24th with around 16,000 crashes a year. The largest percentage of those accidents will happen over the next couple of months. “Breeding season is in full swing now,” said biologist Robert Montgomery with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Fish and Wildlife. “That makes them a lot more active and a lot less cautious in their movements.”

The deer are also most active when they are hardest to see. “The hours between dawn and dusk are the worst,” said Allison. “People really need to slow down and be more alert. One thing we tell people is if a deer runs out in front of you don’t swerve. It’s better to hit a deer than it is to crash into a tree or worse yet an oncoming vehicle.”

Not all of the activity of deer is biological at this time of year. “With the harvest going on and the farmers in the fields their home range is changing,” said Montgomery. “It changes their cover and food sources and that also puts them in motion.”

The movement of deer and the danger to motorists will extend through November. “Hunting season is coming in,” said Montgomery. “Deer being hunted will look for safety and that will get them moving. The thing about hunting is that is one of the best ways you can control their population.”

Deer dangers are just part of driving in southern Indiana in the fall and just about anyone can wind up hitting one. “I hit one myself,” said Allison. “Because out deputies are often on patrol at night we tend to hit them. One of the things we have learned is that deer whistles don’t always work. Slowing down and being alert is the best defense.”

Also, because deer tend to travel in groups drivers should be extra cautious even when they manage to avoid the one they see in the road. “You usually won’t hit the one you see on the road,” said Montgomery. “The one you have to watch out for is the one running behind it.”

“This is just a bad time of the year for them,” added Allison. “If you hit one call the sheriff’s office and we’ll do a report up for you.”