Home Be on the alert: It’s deer mating season

Be on the alert: It’s deer mating season


deer carThose playful deer and their wandering eyes mean motorists will need to be extra cautious over the next several weeks. As deer mating season begins, the animals will become more active and are more likely to be seen on and around roadways.

In Virginia, drivers have a 1-in-94 chance of hitting a deer, according to recent insurance industry claims data for July 2015 through June 2016, ranking the state 13th in the nation for deer-vehicle collisions.

Mating season, taking place now through December, is the most likely time for deer collisions to occur. While you may see a deer at any time of day during this period, they tend to be on the move most at dusk and dawn when they are very difficult to see.


VDOT seeks to reduce deer-vehicle collisions through message boards, wildlife research

To help motorists avoid collisions with deer and other wildlife, reminders to remain alert will be posted on digital message boards along Interstate 64 on Afton Mountain. This area is known to have regular wildlife activity and sees higher instances of deer collisions. The messages are running from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every other day through the end of November.

VDOT began this practice last year after the Virginia Transportation Research Council (VTRC), VDOT’s research division, evaluated strategies to reduce deer-vehicle collisions.

Other research projects are also in the works. In Albemarle County, VTRC studied wildlife behavior near two unfenced underpasses on I-64 and found that while animals used those paths to get to the other side of the interstate, there was still a high degree of deer activity along the road and a high frequency of deer collisions in those locations.

Beginning at the Ivy exit near mile marker 114, eight-foot high fencing will be installed along the interstate leading up to one of those underpasses to help guide deer and other wildlife toward the underpasses and prevent them from attempting to cross the highway. This is expected to be complete by the end of November. Fencing will be installed at the second area near mile marker 110 at the Mechums River in early 2017. The full report detailing this strategy can be found online.

The project will be evaluated over time to determine whether it is successful in reducing collisions with wildlife.


What can you do to avoid hitting a deer?

Deer generally travel in groups. If you see one deer near or on the road, watch out for others nearby. They are also creatures of habit – once you see them in a certain spot, expect to see them again in that vicinity.

More driver tips:

  • Drive the speed limit or reduce your speed when you see deer-warning signs
  • Be on the lookout for deer at any time, but especially between dusk and dawn
  • Use bright headlights when possible and appropriate
  • Watch for animal eyes illuminated by headlights
  • Maintain control of your vehicle when you see a deer, to avoid veering into oncoming traffic or off the road
  • Always wear your seatbelt

If you hit a deer, contact law enforcement in the jurisdiction where the accident occurred. If the animal is dead, you may keep the carcass after reporting the accident once an officer has seen the animal and provided a certificate of possession.



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