When Michael Schwendiman of Marion hit a deer with his 1990 Buick several days ago, he was not alone in his frustration at the accident.
“I’ve had at least two or more deer accident reports to look at each morning when I come to work for the past few weeks,” said Marion County Sheriff Rob Craft. “This time of year the deer are moving because of rut and they just are not looking out for cars.”
Deer breeding season, known as rut, peaks in mid to late November. Lloyd Fox, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism biologist said this is also a time when deer are moving to new locations as crops are harvested and leaves fall from trees and shrubs.
“Not only are deer more active during the fall, but the shorter days mean dusk and dawn — when deer are more likely to be on the move — occur when commuter traffic is highest,” Fox said.
Even those who warn others to be on the lookout for deer cannot seem to avoid them. A state trooper collided with a deer near Atchison on Friday, resulting in significant damage to his vehicle, according to KDWPT.
Damage to Schwendiman’s car was significant as well.
“It messed up the hood and they replaced it with the wrong color,” Tillie Schwendiman said on Monday. “It will never be the same. It makes me so mad.”
Craft said the only way to avoid deer collisions was to not drive, but since that is not a feasible solution, he suggested motorists be extra vigilant for the rest of November.
“You just have to be very observant, especially when traveling along roads that have wooded areas nearby, or low-lying brushy areas,” he said. “The time of day really doesn’t seem to matter anymore. They are moving at all times. We have reports of deer being hit at 2 a.m., 10 a.m., 5 p.m., and 5 a.m. No time is safe.”
Craft said most of the damage caused in deer-vehicle collisions was actually the result of drastic maneuvers by the driver.
“If you see a deer, try to avoid making any drastic direction changes,” he said. “People lose control when they try to avoid a collision. They just need to slow down and drive on through.”
Other tips Craft offered for drivers on the roads during deer rut include:
- Watch for more than one deer. They seldom travel alone, so if one deer crosses the road, others may follow.
- Use bright lights and slow down whenever the reflective eyes of deer are spotted.
- Always wear a seatbelt and do not swerve to avoid hitting a deer.
Craft advised motorists who do hit a deer to call 911 and report the accident if the damage could amount to more than $1,000.
“If there are no injuries to the occupants of the vehicle, or no property damage, and if the vehicle damage looks less than $1,000, you are not required to report the accident,” Craft said. “For insurance purposes, it might be a good idea to call it in though. And, of course, if there are injuries and major damage, call in.”