TOPEKA, KS - Kansas state officials are warning motorists to be aware that November is historically the month when the highest number of deer-vehicle crashes occur.
The increase in deer-vehicle crashes is strongly influenced by deer mating season (the "rut"), which occurs in the fall and peaks during mid-November, explained Lloyd Fox, a biologist with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. Deer frequently travel more during this season and are less cautious of hazards such as vehicles. Also at this time of year, deer shift their core movement area as crops are harvested and trees and shrubs become bare, making the animals less secure in the areas they used during the summer.
Not only are deer more active during the fall, the shorter days mean they are on the move during peak travel times, which occur in the low light of dawn and dusk when they are difficult to see.
According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, there were 9,628 deer-vehicle collisions in Kansas in 2009. Sedgwick County had the most crashes with 395, followed by Johnson County with 353 and Butler County with 286.
State officials advise motorists to observe the following tips to avoid colliding with deer:
- Be especially watchful at dawn and dusk when deer are most active
- Deer seldom travel alone. If one crosses a road, there may be others following
- Reduce speed and be alert near wooded areas or green spaces such as parks or golf courses, and near water sources such as streams or ponds
- Don't swerve to avoid a collision with a deer. The most serious crashes happen when motorists take evasive action
- Heed deer crossing sign warnings
- Use bright lights and slow down when deer are spotted.
According to Kansas Highway Patrol Capt. Art Wilburn, if you hit a deer, pull onto the shoulder, turn on emergency flashers and, if you must leave your vehicle, watch for traffic. Don't remove a deer from the roadway unless you are certain it is dead; an injured deer can hurt you.