Be prepared for increased deer activity ahead of the peak of mating season

A heads-up for motorists from Missouri State Highway Patrol & Department of Conservation
(KY3)
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 6:57 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - In 2021, nearly 4,000 car-deer crashes were investigated across Missouri, with a quarter of those incidents reported in November.

With the peak of the mating season approaching, officials with the Missouri Department of Conservation and Missouri State Highway Patrol are warning motorists of increased deer activity over the next few months.

“Now that we’re getting into the fall, it’s the peak of deer activity,” says Francis Skalicky, media specialist with the Missouri Department of Conservation. “Bucks are chasing does. So, we have a lot of deer movement. Another thing that’s going on is deer are feeding heavily at this time of the year.” This is what deer are known to do before the leaner winter months come in. That’s also contributing to the movement of deer across the Ozarks and the state of Missouri.

With the current deer population in Missouri holding steady at over a million, that is encouraging Skalicky and Sergeant Mike McClure of the Missouri State Highway Patrol to raise awareness for motorists.

“Typically, our highest risk for occurrence with a car versus deer collision begins in October, and it will peak in November,” says McClure. “That correlates with the breeding season of the white-tail deer.”

While less than five fatalities came from the crashes last year statewide, these incidents can lead to costly repairs for damaged vehicles. These collisions’ peak times are from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. and from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. For motorists, McClure offers tips that include increasing your awareness of your surroundings. “Be very attentive to the surroundings of the roadway that you’ll be on,” says Sgt. McClure. “Look closely at the field edges and wooded edges on urban and rural routes. Reduce your speed so that unexpected deer running at your vehicle - if you’re at a lower speed, you have time to adjust your speed by applying the brakes.”

Using your vehicle’s high beams can also be beneficial. “After dark or before it gets daylight, having your high beams on when it’s applicable, and you’re not bright-lighting traffic that’s in front of you or coming at you, that’s always best,” says McClure.

As for what to do when you encounter a deer on the road, it’s best to brake as soon as you can and avoid swerving the deer. Avoiding the impulse to swerve can also save your vehicle from more damage by either running off the road or running the risk of hitting oncoming traffic. If your vehicle is involved in a deer collision, McClure says to pull over to the right side of the road and safely assess the vehicle for damage. “Find out if your vehicle has been debilitated or if you’re still able to drive it, says McClure. Differing insurance policies may dictate whether or not a crash report needs to be filed. Sgt. McClure says drivers can err on the side of caution and call *55 or local law enforcement to assist you or help with reporting if necessary.

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