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The time of year to fear the deer

Late spring can be a time of year when deer become more dangerous.

They’re moving more, as does begin looking for places to give birth — and shed themselves of caring for last year’s fawns, leaving those yearlings on their own for the first time.

It can mean more deer on the roads, requiring motorists — especially motorcyclists — to be alert, officials with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and Division of State Patrol advise.

“The best thing motorists can do to protect themselves and avoid hitting a deer is buckle up, slow down and scan the road ahead carefully,” said David Pabst, director of WisDOT’s Bureau of Transportation Safety.

While crashes between deer and motor vehicles tend to peak in the fall, May and June are when motorists are most likely to be injured in a collision with a deer. Wisconsin last year had 18,408 reported deer/vehicle crashes, with 555 motorists injured and nine fatalities. Of the nine fatalities, six were motorcyclists.

Counties with higher traffic volumes and deer populations tend to record the most crashes. A county-by-county breakdown indicates Dane County had the most reported deer/vehicle crashes in Wisconsin last year with 859, followed by Waukesha County with 823 and Washington County with 758.

WisDOT offers these tips to avoid deer crashes and motorist injuries:

— Slow down, eliminate distractions, and make sure all vehicle occupants are buckled up. Motorcyclists should wear protective gear.

— Deer can be seen at any time but are most active in early morning and evening hours.

— If one deer crosses, watch for more. One long blast of the vehicle’s horn may frighten the animal away.

If a collision with a deer is unavoidable:

— Brake firmly. Stay in your lane. Avoid sudden swerving that can result in a loss of vehicle control and a more serious crash.

— Motorcyclists, however, should swerve if possible to avoid hitting the deer, while trying to stay within the lane to avoid other objects.

If a deer is hit:

— Get the vehicle safely off the road if possible and call law enforcement. Be prepared to describe your specific location.

— It’s generally safest to stay buckled up inside the vehicle. Walking along a highway could result in being struck by another vehicle.

— Don’t attempt to move an injured deer.

WisDOT works with private vendors, county highway departments and law enforcement to handle the removal of deer carcasses along state highways. To report car-killed-deer:

— Deer carcasses on the active, traveled portion of a highway represent an urgent safety hazard and should be reported by calling 911;

— If the carcass is off the traveled portion of the roadway, contact the appropriate county sheriff’s department using the agency’s non-emergency phone number;

— For more efficient and prompt removal of a deer carcass, provide specific location information such as proximity to a milepost, intersecting highway, exit or mailbox number.

More information on the Car-Killed-Deer program can be found on the WisDOT website, https://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/doing-bus/real-estate/roadsides/deercarcassremoval.aspx.

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