The month of June typically sees a spike in deer activity, and safety officials with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) are asking motorists—and especially motorcyclists—to be extra alert. Deer activity increases in June as females search for places to give birth and young deer separate from their mothers. While crashes between deer and motor vehicles tend to peak in the fall, June is typically when motorists are most likely to be injured in a deer/vehicle crash.
Wisconsin law enforcement agencies reported 20,482 deer/motor vehicle crashes last year. Dane County had the most with 959, followed by Waukesha County with 869 and Manitowoc County with 788. In five counties, more than half of all crashes reported in 2017 involved deer: Green Lake, Kewaunee, Lafayette, Oconto and Shawano.
Closer to home, Grant County reported the highest number of car/deer related crashes last year with 489 reportable crashes and 14 injuries as a result of those incidents. Monroe County reported 455 crashes (15 injuries), followed by Vernon County 376 (4); La Crosse County 339 (9); Richland County 160 (4) and Crawford County 49 (1).
WisDOT offers the following tips to avoid deer crashes and motorist injuries:
- Deer can be spotted any time of day, but are most active in early morning and evening hours.
- Slow down, eliminate distractions, and make sure all vehicle occupants are buckled up.
- If you see a deer, slow down and blow your horn with one long blast to frighten it away.
- If a collision with a deer is unavoidable:
- Brake firmly. Stay in your lane.
- Avoid sudden swerving which can cause you to lose control of your vehicle and result in a more serious crash.
- The one exception is if you are operating a motorcycle, in which case you should slow down, brake firmly and swerve if necessary to avoid hitting the deer. Try to stay within your lane if possible to avoid hitting other objects.
- If you do hit a deer:
- Get your vehicle safely off the road if possible and call law enforcement. Be prepared to describe your specific location.
- Generally, it’s safest to stay buckled-up inside your vehicle. Walking along a highway is always dangerous as you could be struck by another vehicle.
- Don’t attempt to move an injured deer.
The increase in motor vehicle travel and deer activity this time of year also results in more car-killed-deer along Wisconsin roadways. WisDOT works with private vendors or counties to manage deer carcass removal. The agreements require vendors to dispose of deer carcasses along the State Highway System (all numbered highways) within two business days after receiving a report. Reporting car-killed-deer for disposal depends on the location of the deer carcass:
- Along Interstates, U.S. and state highways, contact the appropriate county sheriff’s department;
- Along county highways, contact the county highway department;
- Along town, village and city roads, contact the appropriate local municipality.
More information on this topic can be found on the WisDOT website.