Deer can be spotted near Kansas roadways any time of the year. However, in the fall, motorists should be especially vigilant for deer crossing the highways. Deer breeding season peaks in mid-November, and this marks the period when deer-vehicle collisions are highest.
According to biologist Lloyd Fox, the increase in deer-vehicle crashes is strongly influenced by the deer mating season, called “rut.” During rut, deer focus on mating, travel more than in other seasons, and pay less attention to hazards such as vehicles. Also during the fall, many deer move to new locations as crops are harvested and leaves fall from trees and shrubs, so they are less secure than in their summer habitats.
Not only are deer more active during the fall, shorter days mean dusk and dawn — when deer are more likely to be on the move — occur when commuter traffic is highest.
Motorists should observe the following tips:
- Be especially watchful at dawn and dusk when deer are particularly active.
- Watch for more than one deer. They seldom travel alone, so if one crosses the road, others may follow.
- Reduce speed and be alert near wooded areas or green spaces such as parks or golf courses and near water sources such as streams or ponds.
- Don’t swerve to avoid hitting a deer — the most serious accidents occur when motorists swerve and collide with another vehicle or run off the road and hit an obstacle.
- Heed deer crossing signs.
- Always wear a seat belt.