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Avoid hitting deer this migration season

Oct 19, 2022, 3:21 PM | Updated: 3:49 pm
Bull elk near busy Utah roads. (Scott Root)...
Bull elk near busy Utah roads. (Scott Root)
(Scott Root)

SALT LAKE CITY — Wildlife are making their way down the mountains, often in search of food, and Wild Aware Utah released these tips for drivers to keep themselves and wildlife safe.

October and November are the peak months for roadkill. So far, 4,000 deer and vehicle collisions have been reported in Utah this year.

“It coincides with mating season and the annual migration of deer. Animals are crossing more roads during the migration, and male deer move around a lot more to find mates,” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Migration Initiative Coordinator Blair Stringham said.

Deer are most active in early mornings and evenings, perfectly timed with busy commuting hours in low-light conditions. Daylight saving time ends on Nov. 6 and more people will be driving in low visibility hours.

More fences and wildlife bridges have been installed based on wildlife migration routes across Utah as part of the Utah Wildlife Migration Initiative. by tracking migration patterns with GPS trackers on animals and tagged fish they can strategically place wildlife crossing signs and bridges with that data.

Traffic on I-80 passes under a wildlife crossing near Parleys Summit in Parleys Canyon on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

 

Here are some tips from Wild Aware Utah.

Avoiding wildlife collisions

  • Be especially alert at dawn and dusk.
  • Heed wildlife crossing signs. These signs are usually placed in areas known to have a high volume of wildlife/vehicle collisions.
  • Be alert on roadways near wooded, agricultural and wetland areas and also near lakes and streams.
  • Scan both sides of the road as you drive. Invite passengers to help watch for wildlife.
  • Do not drive distracted. Put away food, phones and other distractions.
  • When possible, use high-beam headlights to better illuminate the road.
  • Look for an animal’s eyeshine, which can be seen from a distance. Slow down once you have spotted an animal near the roadside.
  • Some animals travel in groups, so be sure to watch for additional animals if you see one.
  • Do not throw trash out of your vehicle. Not only are there penalties for littering on a highway, but trash and food scraps can also draw animals to roadways.

What to do if you see an animal on or near the road

  • Do not swerve for deer or small animals. Stay in your lane and slow down.
  • If several animals are standing in the road, do not try to drive through them or get out of the vehicle to chase or herd them. Honk your horn and flash your lights to encourage them to move on.
  • If an animal has crossed the road, continue to drive slowly and be cautious because it may try to cross again.

What to do if you hit an animal

  • Pull off the road and use your hazard lights if your car is undriveable.
  • Do not try to approach an injured animal.
  • Call 911 or contact your local police department if you were injured or if the animal is in the roadway and could pose a threat to public safety.

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Avoid hitting deer this migration season