Watch out for deer this fall

Published 7:13 pm Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Autumn is the ideal time for enjoying colorful leaves, crisp air and delicious fall crops. Unfortunately, it’s also the ideal time for deer to be hit by vehicles.

Autumn is breeding season for deer, so they are more active and on the move while searching for a mate. The days are also growing shorter, meaning more people are driving at night, when they are most likely to encounter a deer on the road.

Deer are plentiful in Western Tideater, much of which is still rural and wooded, and every year brings collisions with deer. We care not only about the deer but also about the life and health of all of Suffolk’s residents and visitors, so we hope to see those crashes avoided this year.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries recommends the following tips to avoid hitting a deer:

• Slow down and be attentive, particularly at night (from dusk to dawn). If you see one deer, watch out for others.

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

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

• Always wear a seat belt! Even if a collision is unavoidable, you are more likely to avoid injury or death if you are wearing a seat belt.

• If you hit or kill a deer or bear while driving, immediately report the accident to a Conservation Police Officer or other law enforcement officer in the county or city where the accident occurred.

• If you kill a deer or bear while driving, you may keep it for your own use if you report the accident to a law enforcement officer where the accident occurred and the officer views the animal and gives you a possession certificate.