OFF THE WIRE
With more deer on the move, motorists urged to take care
Animals more active during mating season
11:00 PM, Oct. 28, 2011
Written by Suzanne Weiss Herald Times Reporter
Deer-vehicle safety tips The Wisconsin Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Safety offers the following advice to prevent deer-vehicle collisions: » Be on the lookout for deer, eliminate distractions while driving and slow down in early morning and evening hours — the most active time for deer. » Always wear your safety belt — there are fewer and less severe injuries in vehicle-deer crashes when safety belts are worn. » If you see a deer by the side of the road, slow down and blow your horn with one long blast to frighten the deer away. » When you see one deer, look for another one — deer seldom run alone. » If you see a deer looming in your headlights, don't expect the deer to move away — headlights can confuse a deer and cause the animal to freeze. » Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path. » If you hit a deer, get your vehicle off the road, if possible, and then call a law enforcement agency. Walking on a highway is dangerous, so stay in your vehicle if you can. » Don't try to move the animal if it is still alive. The injured deer could hurt you.
More Related Links More deer hunting headlines on Wisconsinoutdoorfun.com Special report: On target? Wisconsin's deer management policies Discuss deer hunting issues MANITOWOC — With more deer on the move this fall, motorists need to take extra precautions to avoid collisions, authorities say.
"This time of the year the rut is under way," said Manitowoc County Conservation Warden Robert Stroess of the Department of Natural Resources. "It's the mating season for deer, so the bucks are following doe scents and they tend to be moving around — not only at night time or dusk and dawn, they tend to move around more during the day." The peak of the rut traditionally comes at the end of the first week of November and the active period runs through about mid-November. Another rutting period occurs in December, but by then the deer numbers have dropped substantially because it follows hunting season, he said. The Manitowoc County Sheriff's Department has responded to 46 deer-vehicle accidents between Oct. 1-27, said Deputy Inspector Todd Hermann. While deer are more common in the country, it's not unusual to see them in the city. Special report on Wisconsin's deer herd: More 'On Target?' headlines | Search deer hunting statistics | Review deer management over the past 10 years | Discuss deer management in our hunting forum Two Rivers recorded four deer-vehicle accidents since Oct. 1 and Manitowoc has had one deer-vehicle collision during that time, according to police records. Last year, Wisconsin law enforcement agencies reported 16,947 deer versus motor vehicle crashes. Deer are the third most commonly struck object in Wisconsin traffic crashes behind collisions with another vehicle or a fixed object, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. (Page 2 of 3) Motorcyclists must be especially careful because collisions with deer can be fatal to motorcycle drivers and passengers. Motorcycles were involved in 12 of the 13 fatal deer versus motor vehicle crashes in 2010, according to WisDOT. "Over the last couple of years, our deer herd population is increasing," said Aaron Buchholz, wildlife biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources field station in Mishicot. "In response to hunters, we haven't been harvesting them as aggressively as we have in the past. I would anticipate that probably, compared to the last two years, there will be more car-deer collisions this year." Taking precautionsHermann cautioned motorists to take special care on roads displaying deer signs because those are put up in areas that are highly populated with deer or areas where deer appear frequently as they tend to use the same trails on a regular basis, he said. "Use bright lights when legal and possible. Make sure you scan your environment when you drive," recommended Captain Rob Kappelman of the Two Rivers Police Department. "Be extra cautious during hours of darkness. Travel the speed limit," said Lt. Jim Schweigl of the Manitowoc Police Department. Lowering your speed can provide you with more reaction time and give the deer time to get out of the way, Hermann said. If possible, avoid roads in wooded areas, especially at night or dusk, he suggested. Deer tend to stay under cover in areas such as woods, marsh grass or standing corn, Stroess said. "Any place where there's reduced visibility, you want to be more attentive," he said. "If a deer is unavoidable, it would probably be better to hit the deer than to swerve and hit something else," Hermann said. "That's where some of the serious accidents come from. Usually the car-deer crashes aren't quite as bad, but when they swerve off the road or swerve into the lane of another vehicle or hit something in the ditch, that creates actually more damage, a lot of times, or worse accidents than just the fact they hit a deer."
(Page 3 of 3) The one exception to the "don't swerve" advice applies to motorcyclists. On a motorcycle, you should slow down, brake firmly and then swerve if necessary to avoid hitting the deer. If you must swerve, always try to stay within your lane to avoid hitting other objects, according to WisDOT. Claiming the deerPeople who hit a deer often ask if they can claim that deer, Stroess said. "They're entitled to that deer," he said. "They can get a free car-killed deer tag. In order to do that, they need to contact one of the registration stations that handle that." Anyone who comes upon a road-kill deer can claim that deer with a deer-kill tag, Stroess said. The two registration stations in the county are Mobil 310 Mart, 1108 Wisconsin 310, Manitowoc, (920) 682-3116; and the Marsh Inn, 220 S. Manitowoc County W, Collins, (920) 772-4475. Since it's illegal to possess untagged deer, it's a good idea to contact authorities before taking the deer to the registration station, Stroess said. "They just need to make sure they notify the registration station, the DNR or the county dispatch center before they take the deer so they don't find themselves in the predicament of having a untagged deer," he said.