SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages motorists to be more cautious while driving this time of year, as deer/vehicular collisions increase significantly during the months of October and November.
“West Virginia is blessed with an abundance of wildlife, including a healthy white-tailed deer population,” said Gary Foster, supervisor of Game Management for the DNR. “Although deer are found throughout the state, their population densities vary widely from one region to another. West Virginia’s rural nature and mountainous terrain also contribute to collisions between deer and vehicles, as the highest quality deer habitat is often associated with valleys and bottomlands. These same areas support the majority of the state’s road system.”
Several factors contribute to the increase in deer-vehicular collisions during the fall.
“October and November coincide with the ‘rut’ or peak period of the mating season for deer,” Foster said. “During this time frame, deer movements and activities increase significantly, making deer more vulnerable to collisions with vehicles. On average, 40 percent of deer collisions in West Virginia occur during those two months.”
In addition, many hunters take to the woods each fall in search of their quarry and that can influence the movement patterns of deer, making them more likely to cross roadways. The DNR suggests motorists be extra careful during this time of the year and recommends the following driving tips:
• Be aware of your surroundings and what may be in your peripheral vision. If you see deer in the vicinity, reduce your speed and honk your horn using short blasts.
• Drive with your headlights on, and use high beams when possible.
• Reduce your speed, especially during early morning and late evening hours when deer movements typically increase.
• Do not swerve and leave your lane to avoid a deer collision. If you encounter a deer, apply brakes firmly and attempt to stop.
• Drive defensively.
Gary Foster, Wildlife Resources Section