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Deer proving more dangerous than hunters

Staff writer

If you’re keeping score, we may have a surprise winner this season. Deer seem to be bagging at least as many humans’ vehicles as human hunters are bagging deer.

Traffic accidents involving deer on Marion County roads and highways in the past six weeks are up 52% over what they were in the same period a year ago.

A total of 38 accidents involving deer have been reported by Marion County sheriff’s deputies since the start of rutting season.

K-15 accounted for almost half of those accidents, with US-50, US-56, and US-77 accounting for most of the rest.

Local legend has it that drivers are more likely to encounter deer along less traveled, less landscaped county roads than along more highly traveled state and federal highways with clearer rights of way and fewer wooded, low-water crossings.

However, only three deer accidents have occurred along Indigo Rd., the so-called 13-mile road going south out of Hillsboro, and only two have occurred along Sunrise Rd., the so-called 10-mile road going south out of Marion.

A total of only five other accidents have occurred on all other county roads combined.

The most unusual deer strike may have happened Nov. 14 on K-15 south of Goessel. A single deer took out two vehicles in separate accidents just north of 90th Rd.

At 6:08 p.m., less than an hour after sunset, Goessel resident Curtis L. Guhr, 44, was driving his 2019 Jeep Cherokee south on K-15 when he hit a deer in the roadway.

The deer’s carcass flew into the northbound lane, where it then was hit by a 2009 Volkswagen Passat driven by Victor A. Mejias, 20, of Abilene.

Although Guhr was able to remove his Jeep without calling a tow truck, the Volkswagen, owned by Melissa I. Brown of Wichita, had to be towed.

Deer accidents may occur anytime of the year but tend to peak during breeding season from October into December.

Kansas Highway Patrol is urging drivers to pay extra attention while driving and to specifically look for deer along roads, especially at dawn and dusk, which are times of peak movement and reduced visibility.

Wooded areas, parks, golf courses, streams, and creeks are especially prone to deer activity.

Be careful even if a deer seems to recognize that it is in danger. Deer often bolt into vehicles after appearing to have stopped along a roadway’s edge. Deer also travel in groups. If one deer appears to cross safely, be alert for others than may unsafely follow.

Troopers advise that the most serious accidents tend to happen when drivers go to such lengths to avoid colliding with a deer that they lose control of their vehicles.

They advise drivers not to take unsafe evasive actions, saying it usually is safer to hit a deer than it is to hit another object, such as a tree, abutment, or another vehicle.

Although no deer-motorcycle accidents have been reported in Marion County, troopers warn that they tend to be much more serious accidents.

Motorists involved in deer accidents are cautioned not to attempt to move a deer after it has been hit. An injured deer could lash out. Standing in the roadway also could present safety problems with oncoming traffic.

Accidents involving injury or $1,000 or more in damage must be promptly reported to a local law-enforcement agency.

With the high cost of auto repairs, most deer strikes cause at least that much damage. Although an accident might seem trivial, authorities urge that it be reported and that motorists remain safely off the road at the scene until otherwise instructed.

Last modified Nov. 24, 2021

 

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