by Jen Blythe
It’s that time of year!
While we’ve all enjoyed the brisk, sunny transition to fall, the shorter, darker, days are here, and so is the rain. A reminder to not let the fall weather bring the ‘perfect storm’ for deer or you!
Some strategies for reducing collisions during wet, dark fall days:
Whether you’re commuting by car, bike, scooter or skateboard, an earlier dawn and later dusk means you will be on the road at the same time that deer are also more active. At the same time, younger deer may lack the “street sense” of the older does and bucks, so whether they’re simply unaware or get spooked by a dog or car, for example, deer can bolt from bushes, gardens or between parked cars … and right into traffic.
Add to that the slick streets, the glare from headlights and busier roadways as we head to work, school and activities, and you have a “perfect storm” for both deer and travellers to navigate.
To help avoid collisions with deer (and other road users):
- Slow down and scan ahead – Especially important in areas deer are known to frequent, but good practice wherever you’re driving as children, dogs, deer and others can appear quickly and without warning. You would slow down if you saw children at the side of the road right? Doing the same for deer and any wildlife will help reduce collisions.
- Anticipate deer and give them space – Deer rarely travel alone, so if you see one, others will typically follow. Give them time and space to pass safely.
- Drive defensively – deer rarely jump out in front of a car unless they’re spooked. If you drive defensively you will likely see deer at the side of the road “thinking” about crossing, giving you time to slow down as you would in a school zone. However, if a collision with wildlife seems imminent, avoid swerving, as this can cause more damage and personal injury. Instead, remove your foot from the accelerator and brake lightly, keeping the vehicle straight.
At the same time…
If dark days and rain weren’t enough, further adding to the fall and winter mix is rutting season, which typically begins at the end of October and goes through November. As bucks become single-minded in their purpose, they can easily follow the scent of a doe … right into the road.
You might also see bucks tangling with trees, poles or anything else they can practice their bravado on, and later engaging in tussles with other bucks as they strut their stuff for the does. While it may appear aggressive, in fact, it’s just bucks being bucks and they typically have little interest in us or anything else.
As always, leave an escape route for deer that’s far away from yourself. Because dogs – no matter their size – are perceived as a threat, always check your yard carefully for deer before letting your dog out, and when walking, keep them leashed. If you encounter a deer, shorten the lead, stop your dog barking if possible, and back away to give deer more distance.