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  • Last modified 14 days ago (Oct. 4, 2018)

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Oh, dear! It's a deer

Staff writer

Mid-fall through mid-November is the most likely time to hit a deer on the roadway because deer are on the move seeking new habitat and new mates. Already there has been an increase in deer accidents in the county.

Deer mating season peaks in mid-November. At the same time, deer are seeking new shelter and food sources because crops are harvested and leaves are falling from trees and shrubs.

“Marion County has had 63 deer and car accidents so far this year, and one of them was reported as injury,” undersheriff David Huntley said. “In the last two weeks, there has been a great increase. Some don’t get reported because the truckers don’t want to report it. They don’t want it to show up on their driving record. Truckers are really bad about that.”

State statistics for 2017 show 136 deer-related crashes in the county, with 11 people injured.

Huntley said US-56 from Remington to Pawnee Rds., US-50 from Florence to the Harvey County line, and Sunflower and Indigo Rds. seem to be areas with more frequent deer accidents.

Huntley urged drivers to be cautious and vigilant.

“There’s not a whole lot they can do but be aware of it,” Huntley said.

“The deer population has stabilized over the last six years, so areas that have had deer likely still have them,” Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism big game coordinator Levi Jaster said. “This time of year, young animals are dispersing to find new places to live and breeding season is approaching. More animals on the move means more of them will be crossing roads, so be extra cautious in areas with good deer habitat.”

Kansas Department of Transportation statistics show that 17 percent of 2017’s 58,834 vehicle crashes are deer-related.

A spokesman for AAA Kansas said deer crashes often cause significant vehicle damage.

“Of the animal strikes reported by AAA Insurance policy holders in 2017, the average cost per claim was more than $4,500,” Jennifer Haugh said.

Kansas Highway Patrol spokesman Adam Winters cautions drivers to refrain from making exaggerated evasive maneuvers to avoid a deer in the road. Doing so can make a bad situation worse, he said.

“If you are unfortunate enough to have a deer enter the highway in front of your car, it is best to hit the animal and not swerve to avoid it,” Winters said. “Often, we find more serious crashes occur when you swerve to miss the deer, potentially losing control of your vehicle, leaving the road, or veering into oncoming traffic.”

To reduce the chance of striking a deer, be aware:

  • Deer are more active at dawn and dusk.
  • Deer seldom travel alone. If you see one, watch for others.
  • Stay alert near wooded areas, green spaces such as parks and golf courses, and water sources such as streams and ponds.
  • “Deer crossing” signs mark areas where high numbers of crashes have occurred.
  • Driving with lights on bright makes it easier to see deer.
  • A long blast of the car horn can frighten away deer.

If you do strike a deer:

  • Move to the shoulder if possible and call for law enforcement.
  • Tell dispatchers if the car or the deer is still on the road.
  • Don’t try to remove the animal or approach a wounded animal.
  • Remain buckled in and turn on hazard lights to avoid being injured in a secondary crash.
  • If you must be outside your vehicle, make sure it is as far off the road as possible, and don’t stand between your vehicle and another one. Leave children buckled, be vigilant and watch traffic.

Last modified Oct. 4, 2018

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