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The cool weather caused by the longer nights of November have deer feeling frisky. Mating activity peaks in mid-November and increases deer movement.
Data from the Kentucky State Police show deer and vehicle collisions are highest in November.
Motorists must pay attention while driving during this time of year, especially those traveling rural and outer suburban roads at night. Slow down and remain alert while driving, particularly in areas where woods border the road. Deer often dart out from wooded areas onto the road before a driver realizes it.
“The issue of deer and vehicle collisions has no easy fix,” said Tina Brunjes, deer and elk coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “Slowing down is inconvenient, but it reduces both the number of collisions and the damage incurred when a deer can’t be avoided. Also, be alert. If you’ve seen deer in the area, you are likely to see them there again.”
Deer move around the most during the early morning and at dusk. With the return to standard time this past weekend, the peak of daily deer activity coincides with the peak of human activity as people go to and return from work. Foggy early mornings are especially dicey.
Research from the Kentucky State Police shows the hours of 5 to 8 p.m. and 5 to 8 a.m. account for 53 percent of all deer and vehicle collisions during October, November and December.
Drivers should pay attention to the yellow signs with a deer on them. These signs show areas where deer often cross roads. Remain alert after seeing one of these signs while driving during November.
The look of a person completely flummoxed by a surprising situation is described as “a deer in the headlights.” Deer caught in the road by an approaching vehicle often will not move out of the way, even after the driver honks the horn and flashes the headlights. Nothing in the natural world of a deer compares to the brightness of automotive headlights. These bright orbs transfix them.
Kentucky counties bordering the Ohio River in the north, along with Jefferson, Franklin, Hardin, Henderson, Hopkins and Boyd counties, accounted for the most deer and vehicle collisions reported to the Kentucky State Police from 2008 to 2012. These counties had 71 or more collisions each year. Boone County had the highest number of vehicle collisions with deer, an annual average of 152 during that same 5-year period.
If you encounter a deer in the road, watch for traffic behind you and slow to a stop. Allow the animal to get out of the way. Keep the headlights of your vehicle on so other motorists can see your stopped vehicle and the deer in the road. Deer often travel in groups, so if you see one, others are likely nearby.
Hunting does not increase deer movement in fall – it occurs naturally. Breeding causes the movement, not hunting. Hunting is one of the best ways to prevent these collisions because it lowers deer density.
“We encourage hunters in areas with a lot of deer to take more female deer,” Brunjes said. “We encourage landowners in those same areas to allow more hunters access to hunt whenever possible.”
Be vigilant while driving in low light conditions over the next month. Deer and moving vehicles don’t mix.
For more information on deer and vehicle collisions, log on the Kentucky State Police’s webpage at here.
From Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources