Be on lookout for deer on roads

Published 11:35 am Friday, November 12, 2010

RICHMOND—The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is encouraging Virginia’s drivers to be more cautious as they travel the highways this season.

Fall is the breeding season for deer, and consequently, deer are more active now than any other time of the year. One-half to two-thirds of all deer/vehicle collisions occur in October, November and December.

VDGIF estimates the population of white-tailed deer to be about one million animals. Each year, hunters in Virginia harvest over 210,000 deer. The population has been stabilized at between 800,000 and one million animals for almost 10 years. Without hunting, white-tailed deer, due to their reproduction rate, could double their population within five years.

VDGIF recommends the following tips to drivers to avoid hitting a deer.

• When driving, particularly at dusk and dawn, slow down and be attentive. If you see one deer, likely there will be others. If one deer crosses the road as you approach, others may follow.

• Deer habitually travel the same areas; therefore deer crossing signs have been installed by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Use caution when you see these signs.

• Drivers should apply brakes, even stop if necessary, to avoid hitting a deer, but should never swerve out of the lane to miss a deer. A collision with another vehicle, tree or other object is likely to be more serious than hitting a deer.

• Rely on your caution and your own senses, not deer whistles you can buy for your car. These devices have not been shown to be effective.

• Any person who is involved in a collision with a deer or bear while driving a motor vehicle, thereby killing the animal, should immediately report the accident to the conservation police officer or other law enforcement officer in the county or city where the accident occurred.

• Drivers who collide with a deer or bear, thereby killing the animal, may keep it for their own use provided that they report the accident to a law enforcement officer where the accident occurred and the officer views the animal and gives the person a possession certificate.