The Pennsylvania Game Commission is advising motorists that between now and Thanksgiving is the peak season for car and deer collisions. Residents are urged to slow down after sundown and before sunrise to reduce their risk of having a close encounter with a white-tailed deer.
A study by a highway safety group says 112 people were killed in PA from crashes with animals from 1993 to 2007, the third highest number in the country. According to the report, a total of 2,500 Pennsylvanians were in a vehicle-deer crash in 2007.
Commuters on Route 22 and I-78 through the Lehigh Valley know all too well of the presence of deer along the sides of these highways during the early morning and evening rush hours. Deer can be spotted regularly along Route 22 in the fields in Bethlehem Township and near the westbound on and off ramps for Route 378. Deer are regularly seen in the fields in Lower Saucon Township and on the hills in Upper Saucon Township adjacent to I-78. Roads in the northern sections of Lehigh and Northampton Counties are particularly prone to car collisions with deer.
Some deer aren’t paying close attention to what’s going on around them during the fall breeding season, commonly referred to as the “rut.” During the rut, deer are moving about more than usual. It’s a time when deer become preoccupied with finding the opposite sex.
Drivers shouldn’t assume trouble has passed completely when a deer successfully crosses the road. Deer frequently travel in family groups and because one has crossed could be a signal that others may follow, which they sometimes do.
With the end of daylight saving time, more motorists will be driving to and from work at the peak hours of deer activity: dawn and dusk. Also, motorists shouldn’t count on deer whistles to repel deer from the roadways, as they have been found to be unreliable.
Drivers who hit a deer with a vehicle are not required to report the accident to the Game Commission. If the deer dies, only Pennsylvania residents may claim the carcass. To do so, they must call the Game Commission region office representing the county where the accident occurred and an agency dispatcher will collect the information needed to provide a free permit number, which the caller should write down. A driver must call within 24 hours of taking possession of the deer.
A passing Pennsylvania motorist also may claim the deer, if the person whose vehicle hit it doesn’t want it. Again, the motorist must report taking possession of the deer within 24 hours to the Game Commission.
Antlers from bucks killed in vehicle collisions must be turned over to the Game Commission.
If a deer is struck by a vehicle, but not killed, drivers are urged to stay their distance because some deer may recover and move on. However, if a deer does not move on, or poses a public safety risk, drivers are encouraged to report the incident to a Game Commission regional office or other local law enforcement agency. If the deer must be put down, the Game Commission will direct the proper person to do so.
To report a dead deer for removal from state roads, motorists can call the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation at 1-800-FIX-ROAD.