HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl Roe advises motorists to slow down after sundown and before sunrise to reduce their risk of having a close encounter with a white-tailed deer.
Deer collisions are an annual occurrence that will continue through Thanksgiving week and begin to slow down in mid-December. For the sake of safety, the game commission urges motorists to drive cautiously after dark for the next several months.
“The personal tragedies and property losses that are caused by deer-vehicle collisions touch the lives of Pennsylvanians statewide,” Roe said. “It’s an unfortunate and often painful consequence of living with white-tailed deer.”
Roe said that some deer aren’t paying close attention to what’s going on around them during the fall breeding season, referred to as the “rut.”
Roe said, “It’s a time when deer become preoccupied with finding the opposite sex or staying a few steps ahead of rival suitors. It’s a time when this summer’s fawns, left alone while does follow nature’s calling, sometimes naively wander into troublesome predicaments.
“It’s a time, quite frankly, when deer don’t seem to maintain the distance that typically keeps them from dangerously interacting with Pennsylvania motorists.”
Roe also noted drivers shouldn’t assume trouble has passed completely when a deer successfully crosses the road.
“Deer frequently travel in family groups and single file,” Roe said. “Just because one has crossed, doesn’t mean the threat is over. Its crossing could be a signal that others may follow, which they sometimes do blindly.”
Roe also noted that, with the end of daylight saving time, more motorists will be driving to and from work at the peak hours of deer activity: dawn and dusk.
Those who are enjoying the outdoors during this colorful time of year, including hunters, also play a role in moving deer during daylight hours. Hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders and hunters can flush deer from briar thickets, windbreaks and forested areas.
Motorists also should slow down whenever farmers are harvesting cornfields because deer are often flushed from fields as farm equipment approaches them.
Drivers who hit a deer with a vehicle are not required to report the accident to the game commission.
If the deer dies, only Pennsylvania residents may claim the carcass. To do so, they must call the game commission region office representing the county where the accident occurred and an agency dispatcher will collect the information needed for a free permit number. A driver must call within 24 hours of taking possession of the deer.
A passing Pennsylvania motorist also may claim the deer, if the person whose vehicle hit it doesn’t want it.
If a deer is struck by a vehicle, but not killed, drivers are urged to stay their distance because some deer may recover and move on. However, if a deer does not move on, or poses a public safety risk, drivers are encouraged to report the incident to a game commission regional office or other law enforcement agency. If the deer must be put down, the game commission will direct the proper person to do so.
To report a dead deer for removal from state roads, motorists can call the state Department of Transportation at 800-FIX-ROAD.