2006-11-09 / News

Watch for deer when driving

The state Department of Environmental Management recently issued an advisory for motorists to be on alert for deer. Deer tend to move around more frequently during the fall, which is their mating season, and they tend to be more active at dawn and dusk.

Deer dart out suddenly and often travel together, according to the DEM, so motorists should watch for any other deer that may try to cross the road, following the first one. DEM cautions that motorists should drive more slowly at dawn and dusk, use high beams when possible, and always use seat belts because most injuries occur to unbelted drivers.

Lori Gibson, supervising wildlife biologist with the DEM's Division of Fish and Wildlife, said some people report success blowing their horn in one long blast. Other drivers swear by 'deer whistles', although studies have not proven their effectiveness, she noted.

Most drivers are simply not able to react in time to avoid hitting a darting deer, despite their best efforts, she said. While instinctual, swerving or braking suddenly can result in a more severe accident. Drivers can lose control and crash into oncoming traffic or into roadside trees, and some trucks jackknife, according to accident reports.

Anyone who hits a deer should be careful while approaching it, as it may only be stunned, Gibson cautioned. Serious injury could result from flailing antlers or hooves, she added.

She also pointed out that state law requires any driving accidents involving deer must be reported to the DEM's 24-hour dispatch office at 222-3070. They must also be reported to local police and the driver's insurance company. "Though small consolation, the owner of the vehicle involved in the accident may choose to keep the deer with a permit from DEM," according to Gibson.

Last season's reported auto strikes totaled 1,261 in the state. The Jamestown count was 16 road kills. The state total so far this year, January through August, is 693, with the most so far in North Kingston, with 63.

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