Motorists should be alert for deer

KANSAS CITY Mo - The chances for deer darting in front of fast-moving vehicles increases in November, so drivers should be extra alert to avoid accidents.

This is the “rut” or breeding season for white-tailed deer. They are more active than usual and often ear or crossing highways and busy urban streets, said Joe DeBold an urban wildlife biologist in Kansas City for the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).

“The highest peak for increased activity usually occurs during the first three weeks of November,” DeBold said.

Dusk, evening and dawn hours pose the greatest risk for deer moving across highways and into the path of vehicles.

“The number-one thing people can do to avoid collisions is to slow down and drive very cautiously, scanning from one ditch line to the other while driving,” he said. “Do not use tunnel vision while driving. Deer are most apt to be near the shoulder or in the ditches and they sometimes try to dart across the road as automobiles approach.”

Deer encounters are most likely in places where wooded areas are near the roadway. The Kansas City metro area has many parks and semi-rural areas bordering highways where deer are present.

Locations with deer crossing signs deserve special caution. Use high-beam headlights when possible. Watch for deer silhouettes on road sides or eyes glowing in the headlights, and slow down if you spot deer near the road. Remember too that if you see one deer, another is often close behind.

Studies have shown that gadgets such as “deer whistles” do not prevent accidents, DeBold said. Being alert to roadside conditions and slowing down if deer are spotted are the best defenses. Avoid panic braking or swerving because that can lead to accidents.

If a vehicle does strike a deer, the motorist should immediately call 911 and report any injuries and the location of the accident, he said. If the deer is still alive, they should wait for law enforcement personnel to arrive at the scene.

Any motorist wanting to keep the meat, hide or antlers from a deer killed on the highway must contact a conservation agent in the county where the accident occurred and request a disposition form before taking the deer into possession.