Deer movement increases in November as the shorter days and longer nights of fall trigger the breeding season. Motorists need to watch out for deer crossing the road at night or during the day, especially on rural roads.
“Historical data indicate that deer and vehicle collisions in Kentucky are highest in November,” said Tina Brunjes, deer and elk coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “Drivers should slow down and be alert, particularly in areas where woods come close to the road. Deer can quickly dart out from the wooded area and into the road.”
Drivers should not ignore those yellow signs with a deer on them. “Those signs designate high frequency deer crossing areas,” said David Yancy, deer biologist with the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “People forget about them, but they are important.”
The change of the seasons influences not only deer behavior, but human behavior as well. “Drivers need to be vigilant now,” Yancy explained. “The two peaks of deer activity, morning and evening, coincide with the people going to and coming home from work.”
Deer caught in the road by an approaching vehicle often will not move out of the way, even when the driver honks the horn. Headlights tend to transfix these animals.
Motorists who encounter deer in the road should slow to a stop and allow the deer to cross to the other side. Keep the headlights on so other motorists can see your vehicle. Deer usually travel in groups, so if you see one, you’ll likely see more.
If you are traveling at night over the next month or so, be vigilant. Deer can dart out from anywhere and cause serious damage to your vehicle. Be especially careful on foggy nights.
Some people mistakenly blame hunting for November deer movement, but deer move regardless of hunting pressure. “Hunting is not causing the deer to move around, breeding is,” Brunjes said. “Hunting reduces deer densities and areas with lower deer densities have fewer collisions.”
For more information on deer and vehicle collisions, visit the Kentucky State Police’s web page at www. kentuckystatepolice.org/ deerauto.htm.