Wisconsin drivers have a 1-in-79 chance of colliding with a deer any month of the year, but are even more likely to during October and November when bucks are running wild looking for a date.
Reports from Department of Natural Resources offices around the state indicate white-tail deer are now actively moving into their mating season, known as the rut.
Wisconsin ranks seventh in the new State Farm Insurance company annual ranking of states where drivers are most likely to strike deer. The auto insurer uses its claims records and federal licensed driver data to calculate the ranking.
Chief Warden Randy Stark says the increased deer movement, both day and night, due to the breeding season being underway requires drivers to be especially cautious in the next month. This is particularly true at dusk and at dawn. “This is when the deer are on the move from where they’ve spent the night to where they are going to eat. Deer are the most active when feeding and chasing potential mates,” Stark said. “Deer are not looking for cars, which is why drivers must look for deer.”
Last year, the Department of Transportation said, Wisconsin law enforcement agencies reported a total of 18,176 deer versus motor vehicle crashes.
Dane County had the most motor vehicle versus deer crashes reported in 2011 with 846.
Shawano County had the second most with 762, followed by Waukesha County with 714.
In Shawano and Green Lake counties, more than half of all reported crashes in 2011 involved deer.
Deer are the third most commonly struck objects in Wisconsin traffic crashes (behind collisions with other vehicles or fixed objects).
Motorcycles were involved in four of the five fatal deer versus motor vehicle crashes in 2011.
Stark said it pays to remember that where there is one deer, it’s likely there are more. It’s important that vehicle operators drive defensively and anticipate the presence of additional deer when they see a deer along the roadway.
The WisDOT Bureau of Transportation Safety offers the following advice to prevent deer crashes:
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 a safety belt-there are fewer and less severe injuries in vehicle-deer crashes when safety belts are worn.
If a deer is seen by the side of the road, slow down and blow the car horn with one long blast to frighten the deer away.
When one deer is seen, look for another one-deer seldom run alone.
If a deer is looming in the headlights, don’t expect the deer to move away-headlights can confuse a deer and cause the animal to freeze.
Drivers should brake firmly when they notice a deer in or near their path.
Do not swerve-it can confuse the deer as to where to run-and cause the driver to lose control and hit a tree or another car.
The one exception to the “don’t swerve” advice applies to motorcyclists. Motorcycle riders should slow down, brake firmly and then swerve if necessary to avoid hitting the deer. Motorcyclists who must swerve should always try to stay within their lane to avoid hitting other objects.
If a driver hits a deer, he or she should get the vehicle off the road if possible, and then call a law enforcement agency. Walking on a highway is dangerous, so stay in the vehicle if possible.
Don’t try to move the animal if it is still alive. The hurt deer could cause injury.