News

Nov 21, 2013

Deer Crossing


DEM, RIDOT, RI STATE POLICE CAUTION DRIVERS TO BE ALERT FOR DEER CROSSING ROADWAYS DURING ONGOING MATING SEASON

Category: News Room
Posted by: Craig

DEM, RIDOT, RI STATE POLICE CAUTION DRIVERS TO BE ALERT FOR DEER CROSSING ROADWAYS DURING ONGOING MATING SEASON

            PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, and the Rhode Island State Police are advising motorists to be alert for deer crossing roadways, particularly at dawn and dusk. The deer mating season is currently underway and will continue through November and much of December. Deer tend to move around more frequently during this time, and November is typically the peak period for collisions with motor vehicles.

            With shorter daylight hours, many commuters are on area roads during the dawn and dusk hours, when deer tend to be most active. Many of those deer live and roam in suburban and urban areas. Deer may dart out suddenly and often travel together, according to DEM, so motorists should watch for any other deer that may try to cross the road, following the first one. Officials caution that motorists should slow down while driving at dawn and dusk, use high beams when possible, and always use seat belts, since most injuries occur to drivers who are not belted.

            The best way to prevent a collision is to remain alert while driving. Some people report success blowing the horn in one long blast while other drivers report success with ‘deer whistles,’ although studies have not proven their effectiveness. Most drivers are simply not able to react in time to avoid hitting a darting deer, despite best efforts. Swerving suddenly to avoid the deer can result in a more severe accident, as drivers lose control by crashing into oncoming traffic or going off the road.  The best approach is to slow down at night in areas where deer are common; if a deer does suddenly appear, drivers should use controlled braking to avoid or minimize a direct impact with the animal.  Deer struck head-on will succumb, but the driver and passengers might be saved from a more serious potential outcome.     

            Anyone who strikes a deer should exercise caution when approaching a deer that has been hit, as it may only be stunned, and a person could become seriously injured by a wounded animal’s attempt to escape. In accordance with state law, any deer-vehicle collision must be reported to DEM's 24-hour dispatch office at 222-3070, as well as to local police and the driver's insurance company. Though small consolation, the owner of the vehicle involved in the accident may choose to keep the deer with a permit from DEM. The owner may request a permit when calling the 24-hour dispatch office to report the accident.

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            According to DEM’s Division of Law Enforcement, 1,026 deer auto strikes have been reported, to date, in Rhode Island this year, with 359 taking place alone in September and October.  The communities with the largest number of auto strikes reported this fall during those two months include North Kingstown (24), Scituate (23), Smithfield/North Smithfield (18), South Kingstown (17), Warwick (17), Lincoln (13), Cumberland (12), and Narragansett (4). 

            DEM’s Division of Fish & Wildlife has established two deer management zones for harvesting deer in an effort to meet specific deer management goals, such as reducing auto strikes, addressing nuisance deer and health-related Lyme disease issues, managing urban deer herds in the state’s most densely populated communities, and maintaining quality hunting. This is expected to help reduce the number of auto strikes and property damage over the next several years in Rhode Island. DEM’s deer management strategy is aimed at maintaining quality hunting programs that recognize the strong hunter tradition of deer hunting in Rhode Island and the important role that hunters play in population regulation. 

            Factors such as food supply can increase or reduce the number of strikes that take place because these factors may limit deer movement.  This year’s crop of acorns is very small, and in some areas of the state, almost nonexistent. This has resulted in increased activity by deer in search of food sources. The movement of deer in search of food, particularly when they are crossing roadways, makes them vulnerable to auto collisions.