Deer are more active this time of year, during the rut, and drivers are reminded to be more alert on the roads.
The deer rut is when bucks become more active in searching for does with which to breed. This makes the bucks bolder and less wary. It also makes them more susceptible to collisions with vehicles. Also keeping deer on the move are changing cover patterns caused by the crop harvest. Deer movement peaks each day near dawn and just after dusk.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has some tips to help drivers avoid deer-vehicle accidents:
— When driving near shelterbelts, woodlots, creeks or where crops are still standing, especially during evening or early morning, slow down and watch for deer.
— When you spot a deer, assume there will be others in the same area, either ahead of or behind the one you have seen.
— Be prepared to stop suddenly.
— Many places where deer travel are posted with deer crossing signs. The absence of a sign does not mean a deer will not appear.
— Deer often seem to be disoriented or confused by headlights. Some react by freezing in the light, some dart into the path of the vehicle, others bolt away in the opposite direction. Sometimes deer that have just crossed the road suddenly change direction and run back into the path of a vehicle.
— Honk your horn and flash your headlights to frighten deer away from the side of the road. If there is other traffic on the road, you can activate your emergency flashers and tap your brakes to alert other drivers to the potential danger.
— Anticipate the possibility of a deer unexpectedly crossing in front of you and plan ahead to avoid swerving, turning or braking the vehicle too sharply if a deer suddenly appears.
If a deer is struck and the driver wants to salvage it, the driver may take possession of the deer but must contact a Game and Parks conservation officer within 24 hours to obtain a salvage tag.
Image courtesy Nebraska Game and Parks Commission