Deer on the move, DNR warns drivers to stay alert on the road

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Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 5:24 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 26, 2021 at 6:52 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - You can catch a glimpse of deer frolicking anywhere in Wisconsin.

The Dept. of Natural Resources says October and November are the start of something important: an annual cycle for deer.

“It starts to be driven by a shift in deer movement related to changing food availability patterns and that leads right into the breeding season,” Jeff Pritzl, Deer Program Specialist with the Wisc. Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) said.

Pritzl and DNR Wildlife Manager Brian Dhuey said that’s why Wisconsinites see so many deer on the trails and in the road.

“They’re not so weary of vehicles and their situations as they are about breeding, so they may react differently than people are normally accustomed to,” Dhuey said.

That can lead to crashes. According to the Wisconsin Dept. Transportation, in 2020, there were more than 18,400 reported car crashes which killed deer. Those resulted in 523 injuries and 13 deaths among Wisconsin drivers.

“The activity times are highest during those twilight periods and unfortunately it’s the most difficult time to see, your headlights are least effective,” Dhuey said.

Officials are encouraging motorists to pay attention, because just like drivers, deer are on the move.

“Never assume that when you see a deer, that that’s the only deer, typically if there’s one deer, this time of the year, there is one or more following it,” Pritzl said. “You’re seeing more dead deer on the side of the road this time of year but take that as a clue to drive more defensively.”

Deer firearm hunting season starts next month. Pritzl says that helps curb the deer population, which leads to fewer deer on the move.

The Wisconsin State Patrol has advice for all motorists if they do hit a deer.

“If you do hit a deer and your vehicle is movable, please get it out of the lane of traffic, you don’t want to be sitting in the lane of traffic, especially if you’re in the dark, because if you’re someone else driving, you’re not expecting to see a car in the lane of traffic,” Inspector Dylan Strasburg said.

If you can’t move your vehicle, call 911. Troopers also advise drivers not get out of their cars to move anything. Leaving your vehicle puts you at risk of getting before receiving help.

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