Deer breeding season poses danger on highways

Deer Breeding Season

Deer breeding season poses danger on highways

We’ve seen an increase in deer-vehicle crashes, which is normal for this time of year, said Lt. Mark Glennon, commander of the New Philadelphia post of the Ohio Highway Patrol. “When hunting season starts, hunters push the deer around. And with cold weather, the deer come out more.”

Loopy-in-love deer meandering out into traffic can cause deadly circumstances for drivers. Fortunately, deer-involved crashes have been down, but their population is growing.

For deer, it’s the season of love.

It’s also the season of injury and death.

And in recent weeks, more of them have been meandering out onto Tuscarawas County’s highways posing problems for drivers.

“We’ve seen an increase in deer-vehicle crashes, which is normal for this time of year,” said Lt. Mark Glennon, commander of the New Philadelphia post of the Ohio Highway Patrol. “When hunting season starts, hunters push the deer around. And with cold weather, the deer come out more.”

Because Tuscarawas County is a rural county, crashes involving a deer are possible anywhere, he said.

“With the time change this weekend, it makes a difference in the people who will be on the road,” Glennon said. “With it staying dark in the morning and getting dark sooner in the evening, motorists will experience the deer more, because deer are out more in the evening.”

Deer crashes can be deadly.

Earlier this week a 28-year-old Carrollton woman was convicted of vehicular manslaughter for the Feb. 8 death of a 61-year-old Magnolia area woman in Carroll County. The younger woman was driving west on Route 171 when she entered the eastbound lane to avoid a deer, according to a statement from the Carroll County Prosecutor’s Office. She struck the vehicle driven by the older woman, who later died.

That crash happened in February. But more deer typically wander out or dart into traffic during the rutting season, which wildlife officials say is currently in full swing.

“This is also our peak vehicle accident time of the year,” said Scott Peters, wildlife management supervisor for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. “It’s rutting season. Getting into late October and into the first two weeks of November, that is prime deer breeding time. The deer are just starting to move.”

Highway patrol records for the New Philadelphia post show that there have been 212 deer/vehicle crashes so far this year, down from 234 crashes during the same time period in 2017.

Glennon recommends that drivers be aware of their surroundings.

“The deer will dart out from the side of the road,” he said. “If you see one, don’t swerve. Brake to stop your vehicle as soon as possible. If you swerve, you could cause other problems and be involved in a more serious accident.”

While the number of deer-involved crashes are down, that doesn’t mean deer have learned the rules of the road.

And it doesn’t mean there are fewer of them.

Peters said wildlife officers don’t estimate the deer population because it’s not an exact count, but, “We know the deer herd has been growing.” And, he said, “We’re actually expecting an increased harvest this year.”

Ohio hunters harvested 186,247 deer during the 2017-18 season, according to the wildlife division’s Ohio Deer Summary. Tuscarawas County was the second-top deer harvester, taking 5,722 deer in 2017.

Peters said the number of deer taken has been “trending slightly up the past few years.”

The state agency’s website shows 429,006 permits were issued statewide in 2017-2018 compared to 2007-2008 when 578,366 were issued. The highest number issued in the last decade was in 2009-2010 when 624,908 permits were issued.

But, Peters said, the falling number can be due to a number of reasons, one being that landowners and their families can hunt for free in Ohio, so they don’t need to purchase hunting licenses and permits.

Gun season for deer starts the Monday after Thanksgiving and runs for a week. There are also two “bonus weekends,” leaving hunters nine days to hunt, Peters pointed out.

Statewide, hunters can take a maximum of six deer, but the count in each county varies.

Originally posted at Times Reporter on Nov, 02 2018.

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