As deer become more active, motorist should become more vigilant

Published 7:00 am Saturday, October 8, 2016

The likelihood of motorists colliding with a deer in Mississippi has increased and now is the time of year when deer are more active. This extra activity can be hazardous for motorists in Mississippi because deer tend to leap across roads and highways in their quest for food and mates.
Mississippi ranks 10th nationally in deer collisions, according to insurance claim data from State Farm. The odds of Mississippi motorists colliding with deer are 1 out of 87, which trumps the national average of 1 out of 164. Data collected from State Farm indicates the months Mississippi motorists are more likely to collide with deer are from October to December.
Mating season for deer in Mississippi varies, but studies from the Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks indicates that mating season comes later in the year the further south deer live, William McKinley, wildlife biologist said. In Pearl River County, mating season for deer ranges from Jan. 4 to 24 according to a MDWFP deer breeding data map.
Although mating season isn’t until December and January, McKinley said deer are still active around this time of year and the males are slightly more aggressive than usual because they are losing the velvet on their antlers, which prompts a rise in testosterone levels.
Chase Elkins, Mississippi Highway Patrol public information officer for Troop K, said avoiding a catastrophic motor vehicle accident with deer is simple.
“To avoid serious injuries in a collision with a deer on the road, the best thing to do is to not try and avoid the animal,” Elkins said. “If you hit a deer straight on, the risk of injuries for the driver and others in the car is greatly reduced. People that suffer serious injuries from colliding with deer do not occur because of the collision, they occur because people try and swerve out of the way and end up driving off the road, putting themselves at risk of rolling the car or even worse.”
Elkins suggests motorists keep the steering wheel straight, apply brakes appropriately and drive at a slower speed during these next couple of months while deer are most active.
Insurance claims submitted to State Farm show that over the past year more than 22,700 deer collisions were reported in Mississippi, which translates to a 1.1 percent increase from the previous year.
“There is an increased risk of a collision with deer around dawn and dusk, and also during the fall breeding season,” Roszell Gadson, State Farm spokesman, said in a press release. “We encourage drivers to be aware and on the lookout at all times, because you never know when you may need to react to a deer or other obstacles that may unexpectedly be in your path.”
“Most deer are actually accustomed to the noisy highways and roads,” McKinley said. “However, deer usually travel in groups so if the lead deer crosses the street, a couple more will follow and that is when collisions happen.”

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