Deer create ‘hairy’ situations for local drivers

These deer were spotted at McCormick Woods Golf Course. Drivers should pay attention this month and next as they are prime times for auto-deer collisions.  - Jesse Beals/file photo
These deer were spotted at McCormick Woods Golf Course. Drivers should pay attention this month and next as they are prime times for auto-deer collisions.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/file photo

With the hues of fall surrounding Kitsap County, drivers are urged to maintain vigilance when traveling local roads during deer season.

“This time of year, more than half of the collisions occur in October and November,” said Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Spokeswoman Marian Snyder. “There are a lot of roads (in the county) they can cross anytime.”

Each year, automobile collisions involving deer account for more than 150 human and nearly one-and-a-half million deer fatalities, according to a Response Insurance Company news release.

An increase in deer sightings is attributed to the mating season, Snyder said. If drivers see one deer, there may be others in the area. Dawn and dusk hours are the prime time when drivers should be aware of deer crossing roadways, however, deer can be near or on roads anytime of the day.

“If a driver sees break lights, it could be that the person in front of them sees a deer,” she added. “People should be on extra alert for deer.”

With daylight hours being shortened as the seasons change, drivers can take a few extra precautions to prevent deer-related collisions.

• Scan a wide area of the roadway and slow down when approaching a deer standing near the side of the road. Maintain caution when passing the deer, they can bolt into the roadway if startled.

• Honking the car horn and flashing headlights also can scare the deer away before it enters the roadway. Using high beams creates a greater visibility and allows the driver to see the deer’s reflective eyes sooner.

• Do not swerve around the deer in case it decides to swerve in the same direction as the vehicle. Swerving also can cause a collision with another vehicle.

• Be particularly careful during dawn and dusk hours, especially when driving around a corner, over a hill or on a roadway with high banks. Although many drivers use ultrasonic avoidance systems or deer whistles, they have never been proven to work and may cause a false sense of security.

“During nighttime, drive more carefully,” Snyder added. “Be really careful especially if on a road with high banks.”

• Take deer crossing signs seriously, especially when around wooded and agricultural areas.

“Just about any secondary arterial can be used for wildlife to cross,” said Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson. “In areas where there’s less traffic, you’ll see deer, typically meandering across (the road).”

With increased amounts of rain, lessened daylight hours and colder temperatures beginning to settle into the region for the winter, drivers should continue to exercise caution when traveling throughout Kitsap County.

“Drivers have to be especially aware this time of year,” Wilson said. “(The deer) don’t seem to have any comprehension what cars are.”

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