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Deer on the move on state roadways

HARRISBURG — With deer becoming increasingly active, and daylight-saving time soon to put more vehicles on the road during the hours when deer move most, the Pennsylvania Game Commission is advising motorists to slow down and stay alert.

Deer become more active in autumn with the lead-up to their fall breeding season, commonly referred to as the “rut.” Around this time, many yearling bucks disperse from the areas in which they were born and travel, sometimes several dozen miles, to find new ranges. Meanwhile, adult bucks more often are cruising their home ranges in search of does, and they sometimes chase the does they encounter.

There is increased vehicular traffic between dusk and dawn due to the change from Daylight Saving Time — the peak hours for deer activity.

“While the peak of the rut still is a few weeks off, deer already have increased their activity and are crossing roads,” Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans said. “While motorists at any time of year are well advised to stay alert and be on the lookout for whitetails while driving, it’s especially important now and in the coming weeks.”

Each year, insurance provider State Farm compiles a report on the likelihood drivers in each state will collide with a deer or other large animal, and Pennsylvania regularly is near the top of list. This year is no exception. In the 2019 report, released last month, Pennsylvania remained third among states. According to the report, Pennsylvania drivers have a 1-in-52 chance of experiencing a collision with a deer or other large animal.

Drivers can reduce their chances of collisions with deer by staying alert and better understanding deer behavior. Just paying attention while driving on stretches marked with “Deer Crossing” signs can make a difference.

Deer often travel in family groups and walk single file. So even if one deer successfully crosses the road in front of a driver, it doesn’t mean the threat is over. Another could be right behind it.

A driver who hits a deer with a vehicle is 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 resident 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.

Those taking possession of road-killed deer also are advised of rules related to Chronic Wasting Disease that prohibit the removal of high-risk deer parts — essentially the head and backbone — from any established Disease Management Area.

To report a dead deer for removal from state roads, motorists can call the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation at 1-800-FIX-ROAD.

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