(St. Joseph,MO) The start of Fall means the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting a little colder and deer are on the move.
"During the October and November time is when they do a lot of crossing the roadways, because of hunting and harvest," Lieutenant Doug Hedrick, of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said.
David Carlisle, a Conservation Agent for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said as deer breeding season gets closer, more deer are moving to find cover, food and mates, which means they are less likely to be watching for traffic.
“The farmers are out removing row crops which is part of their cover, so that’s going to be moving around. Hunters are going to be in the woods more hanging tree stands and being out there hunting and in that process that will move deer in and out places,”Carlisle said.
The extra movement from the deer population can pose a huge threat to drivers.
"Last year we had over 4,000 [deer related accidents]. There were seven fatalities and over 400 injuries," Hedrick said.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol in 2017 a deer was hit by a car approximately ever 2.2 hours.
"The best thing to do is remain calm. If you see a deer, try not to avoid it by going into another lane of traffic, because that is where our crashes occur," Hedrick said.
Deer are typically the most active from 5pm to 7am, which means drivers should be on the lookout after dark.
“They are most active, morning, dusk and dawn.So we need to keep those times in mind,” Carlisle said. “ If you’re traveling to go to work at those times, and you’re in an areas where cover is appropriate for deer, and you know that there are a lot of deer, you need to slow down.Take that seriously, try not to be distracted.”
Carlisle recommends drivers reduce their speed when driving at night and be aware of their surroundings, because does typically will travel with their young.
"Just because one deer goes across in front, don't fixate on that deer,because there is probably going to be another one right behind them, and that's usually the one that gets somebody," Carlisle said
Rural areas aren’t the only place a driver could run into a deer.
“The rural area where you have a lot of farm or woods would probably have more deer in them, but with a lot more cars on Interstate 29,traveling back and forth to Kansas City, probably the opportunity or percentage would be higher on I-29, than would be on a two lane road,” Hedrick said.
For anyone that might want to keep the deer after a collision, Carlisle recommends contacting the Department of Conservation for the correct permit.
“If the person that hits that, or anybody, wants that deer, we will give it to them. There is paperwork they have to have to make that legal,” Carlisle said. “You do not put your deer tag on an animal that has been killed by a car.”
If a collision with a deer or other wildlife is unavoidable, Hedrick said wearing a seatbelt is the most effective way to avoid injury
"Make sure everybody in the vehicle is buckled up, [in] child restraint seat or booster seat, that helps prevent injuries,” Hedrick said.