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With winter’s shorter days, many motorists will be commuting in the dark, increasing the likelihood of their vehicle colliding with a deer.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is encouraging drivers to be more cautious this season.
“Deer are more active during the fall breeding season than any other time of the year, and a majority of all deer/vehicle collisions occur in the months of October, November and December,” says Nelson Lafon of VDGIF. “While less than 2 percent of vehicle fatalities and injuries involve deer collisions in Virginia, hitting a deer can cause considerable damage to both people and property.
The state recommends these tips to avoid hitting a deer:
• When driving, particularly at dusk and dawn, slow down and be attentive.
• Deer typically travel in groups. If you see one deer, it’s likely there will be others. So, if one deer crosses the road as you approach, others are likely to follow.
• Drivers should apply brakes 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.
• 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.
• Rely on your caution and your own senses. Deer whistles mounted on the bumper of a car (to scare away deer) have not been shown to be effective.
• Any person involved in a collision with a deer or bear while driving a motor vehicle should immediately report the accident to a law enforcement officer. Once properly documented, a driver may keep the carcass for their own use.
Wildlife biologists with VDGIF estimate the white-tailed deer population in Virginia at this time of year to be at approximately 900,000 animals. Each year, hunters harvest more than 200,000 deer.