Go Ahead and Hit Those Horny Deer, Missouri DOC Says

Most deer-involved accidents occur when people take evasive measures to avoid the deer

click to enlarge Cute and deadly, Missouri deer are in mating season and causing a problem for motorists.
Cute and deadly, Missouri deer are in mating season and causing a problem for motorists.

If you're seeing more deer along the roadways right now, that's because it's the height of mating season. And the deer are getting frisky.

Deer especially like to flirt and date at dawn and dusk. Due to our blessed return to standard time, those hours are now also times when people are more likely to be moving around. Today, dawn was at 6:23 a.m. and dusk will be at 5:12 p.m., right during rush hour.

More traffic and more deer? It's a deadly combination for humans and deer alike.

Most people react as you should expect and when they see deer on the roadway — they swerve, brake or take other action to avoid hitting the animal. This instinct, the Missouri Department of Conservation told KSDK, is a mistake.

"If you're driving and you're in a situation where you're at fairly low speeds without much traffic or anything around, and you can avoid the deer, then, yes, if you can do it safely, then try to do so," Dan Zarlenga, St. Louis Regional Media Specialist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, told KSDK. "But if you're at high speeds, there's oncoming traffic, you've got a narrow roadway, whatever, where you might fall off into a ditch or hit a tree, then, unfortunately, the best thing you can do is just go ahead and hit the deer."

This may seem like a nonviable option as well. Three people have died and 420 people have been injured when hitting deer in 2021. (A deer is hit about every 2 hours on Missouri roadways, so it also seems cruel.) But in comparison the Missouri State Highway Patrol says that in Missouri there were 3,779 crashes involving deer last year. Most of those were drivers avoiding hitting a deer.

So the answer may be to just be cautious by wooded areas, and if you see deer anywhere (even on the side of the road) just know that there are probably others (maybe on the road) and exercise caution.

Plus, the deer population is out of control because there are no natural predators in the area to keep them in check. So perhaps automobiles have to take the place of timberwolves.

Deer mating season will end in November, but increased deer activity (and therefore driver caution) could continue through December.

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