OLYMPIA – Sunday, Nov. 3, is the end of daylight saving time, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) recommends that drivers take extra precautions to prevent deer vehicle collisions over the next month.
“Your risk of colliding with a deer on rural and suburban roads is much higher during November,” said Brock Hoenes, WDFW deer and elk section manager. “Deer have started their mating season so their behaviors and movements are atypical in ways that make them very risky for motorists. For example, deer are less afraid of crossing a roadway and may be oblivious of their need to evade an oncoming vehicle.”
Here are four easy things that drivers can do to avoid animal collisions.
- Slow down – Higher speeds mean you have less time to react and a greater chance of animal collision. Pay attention to the deer crossing signs and stick to the posted speed limits.
- Eyes on the road - Stay focused on the roadway and scan for hazards near forests and farms.
- Use high beams, when appropriate – Deer are most active in the evening and early morning hours. Using high beams when there are no oncoming vehicles will allow you more time to react to a deer or other obstacle in the road.
- Brake for one animal and expect more – Frequently, more than one deer will cross the road in quick succession. Don’t assume that you’re safe once a single animal passes.
According to a recent analysis of insurance claims by State Farm newsroom.statefarm.com/animal-collision/ the odds of a Washington driver hitting a deer, moose or elk was 1 in 258 for 2018-2019. Average costs to repair damage from a deer collision are more than $4,000 per incident. That damage estimate doesn’t include the hassle, time, potential for injury, and stress that go along with colliding with a large animal.
Drivers can see where there have been deer-vehicle collisions by checking the attached map or visiting data.wa.gov/Natural-Resources-Environment/2016-2019-WDFW-Deer-and-Elk-Salvage-Permits/mcp7-tcwf. If users select the visualize option, they can view a statewide map. People submitted these reports to WDFW to salvage vehicle-killed animals.
In Washington, people can salvage and transport a deer or elk that is accidentally killed by a motor vehicle collision, except for any deer killed by a motor vehicle collision in Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum counties. Anyone who takes possession of a deer or elk carcass must get a free, printable permit at wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/roadkill-salvage within 24 hours. The permittee must then keep a hard copy of the signed and dated salvage permit with the meat until they consume all the edible parts.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities.