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Deer mating season results in deer, car collisions

November 18, 2011

Motorists need to be on the lookout for wandering deer this month, as the animals’ mating season will have them increasingly crossing rural highways and into the path of passing vehicles, according to a Wisconsin Department of Transportation, or WisDOT, press release. The warning extends to the thousands of UW-River Falls students, faculty and staff who commute to the University every week.

“Each fall, deer become more prevalent and their movements even more unpredictable along highways and rural roads throughout Wisconsin,” according to the WisDOT press release.

Driving to the University in the morning and returning home in the evening puts UWRF commuters at the greatest risk for collision with deer. Between October and January of 2010, the most common times to hit a deer were from 5 p.m. to midnight, and 5 a.m. to 8 a.m., according to the WisDOT 2010 Deer Crash Fact Sheet.

“You’re most likely to hit a deer in the early morning hours or at dusk when they’re on the move,” said Donald Lyden, a research analyst for the WisDOT Bureau of Transportation Safety.

The route to River Falls from the Twin Cities by way of I-94 and Highway 35 passes through Pierce and St. Croix Counties. In 2009 there were 21 collisions with deer in Pierce County, and 589 in St. Croix County, according to the Wisconsin Traffic Crash Facts Book.

If a motorist hits a deer, they need to first move their vehicle off the road, and then record the time and place the collision occurred for insurance purposes. Motorists should also call a local law enforcement agency and report the location of the deer, according to the May 2010 WisDOT Motorists’ Handbook.

UWRF biomedical sciences major Adam Boldt commutes through Pierce and St. Croix Counties four days a week on his way to the University. “I have felt nervous that something could jump in front of me, mostly in the morning when I’m on Highway 35 because it is not always completely light out and there are no fences to prevent deer from crossing the road from the surrounding wilderness,” Boldt said.

Boldt said he laments the yearly tragedy of highways strewn with dead deer.

“When I see deer carcasses, I feel bad because someone had a really bad day and a deer is dead, mostly due to the fragmentation of the deer’s habitat from human roads and housing,” Boldt said.