Drivers beware: Deer are very active this time of year
MADISON — Wisconsin drivers have a 1-in-79 chance of colliding with a deer any month of the year – but even more likely during October and November when bucks are running wild looking for a date.
Reports from Department of Natural Resources offices around the state indicate the white-tail deer are now actively moving into their mating season, known as the rut.
Wisconsin ranks seventh in the new State Farm insurance company annual ranking of states where drivers are most likely to strike deer. The auto insurer uses its claims records and federal licensed driver data to calculate the ranking.
Chief Warden Randy Stark says the increased deer movement, both day and night, due to the breeding season being under way requires drivers to be especially cautious in the next month. This is particularly true at dusk and at dawn. “This is when the deer are on the move from where they’ve spent the night to where they are going to eat. Deer are the most active when feeding and chasing potential mates,” Stark said. “Deer are not looking for cars, which is why drivers must look for deer.”
Last year, the Department of Transportation says Wisconsin law enforcement agencies reported a total of 18,176 deer versus motor vehicle crashes.
Dane County had the most motor vehicle versus deer crashes reported in 2011 with 846.
Shawano County had the second most with 762 followed by Waukesha County with 714.
In Shawano and Green Lake counties, more than half of all reported crashes in 2011 involved deer.
Deer are the third most commonly struck object in Wisconsin traffic crashes (behind collisions with another vehicle or a fixed object).
Motorcycles were involved in four of the five fatal deer versus motor vehicle crashes in 2011.
Stark says it pays to remember if you see one deer, it’s likely there are more. “It’s important vehicle operators drive defensively and anticipate the presence of additional deer when they see a deer along the roadway.”
The WisDOT Bureau of Transportation Safety offers the following advice to prevent deer crashes:
Be on the lookout for deer, eliminate distractions while driving, and slow down in early morning and evening hours-the most active time for deer.
Always wear your safety belt-there are fewer and less severe injuries in vehicle-deer crashes when safety belts are worn.
If you see a deer by the side of the road, slow down and blow your horn with one long blast to frighten the deer away.
When you see one deer, look for another one-deer seldom run alone.
If you see a deer looming in your headlights, don’t expect the deer to move away-headlights can confuse a deer and cause the animal to freeze.
Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path.
Do not swerve-it can confuse the deer as to where to run-and cause you to lose control and hit a tree or another car.
The one exception to the “don’t swerve” advice applies to motorcyclists. On a motorcycle, you should slow down, brake firmly and then swerve if necessary to avoid hitting the deer. If you must swerve, always try to stay within your lane to avoid hitting other objects.
If you hit a deer, get your vehicle off the road if possible, and then call a law enforcement agency. Walking on a highway is dangerous, so stay in your vehicle if you can.
Don’t try to move the animal if it is still alive. The injured deer could hurt you.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Randy Stark, 608-266-1115 or Joanne M. Haas, public affairs manager, Bureau of Law Enforcement, 608-267-0798