Seasonal Deer Movement Raises Risk Of Vehicle Collisions
ANNAPOLIS ó Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife & Heritage Service advises motorists to be especially alert for deer moving across roads and highways during October and November. In 2003, the reported deer-vehicle mortality in Maryland was 3,849.
Many animals have seasonal time periods when their movements increase in order to migrate, reproduce or find food. White-tailed deer movements increase within their home ranges and young bucks establish new home ranges. Adult bucks driven by surging hormones begin to move about in search of receptive females. Does are also more active, looking for a mature buck. Young male fawns, born the previous Spring may become separated from their mother as a result of this breeding behavior.
Yearling bucks (about l.5 years old), participating in their first breeding season, typically relocate many miles from their natal home ranges. Research conducted in Kent County, Maryland found that most yearling males disperse during October for an average distance of 4 miles.
This reproductive induced deer movement means that more deer will be crossing highways during October and November. Motorists need to heighten their awareness for the potential of deer crossing the road in front of them. DNR offers the Maryland motorists the following tips to improve the odds of avoiding a deer and vehicle collision:
Marylandís colorful fall is an excellent time for wildlife recreational pursuits. Wildlife behavior in the fall enhances bird watching, wildlife photography, wildlife observation and hunting. Enjoy traveling to your favorite outdoor recreational areas with your family and friends, but be extra wary of deer along Marylandís roads and highways.
- A deer standing near the road may suddenly leap onto the road. Slow down and sound your horn to scare the deer away from the road.
- If you see a deer crossing the road ahead, slow down and scan for more deer. Deer travel in groups; others may be nearby, but out of view.
- Slow down and brake to avoid hitting a deer, but do not swerve. Swerving can cause a driver to lose control and strike another vehicle. The vehicle also may leave the roadway and strike a tree or roll over.
- All during the year, increase your awareness for deer in the early morning hours and late afternoon hours. Deer commonly move between daytime resting areas to evening feeding locations.
- Be more alert in areas of deer-crossing highway signs throughout the year. These warning signs indicate locations of frequent deer crossings.
For more information, go to http://dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife/deerhunting.asp