Beware of Animals Making Poor Decisions While Chasing Tail

7 tips to play it safe on the road

Winter’s coming; do you know what deer are doing?

October and November are the prime months for deer mating. As deer are on the move—“chasing tail” as it were—they can head out into the middle of the road. Deer crossing road

"We share this community with wildlife, and as our human population grows it becomes increasingly important to learn how to live together safely and peacefully. Education is key," says Tanya Hilgendorf, President and CEO of the Humane Society of Huron Valley. "While there are times when collisions are unavoidable, there are ways we can change our own habits to help avoid them.  We need to be extra alert in and around mating season when behavioral changes increase risk for collisions."

How do you play it safe while randy bucks are chasing does? Here are seven tips:

1.    Look out, especially at dawn and dusk. Deer are most likely to be on the “edge” of development—where we’ve built roadways next to woodlands. Be extra vigilant around forest edges and ditches, as well as when the sun rises or sets—though during the breeding season, they may be on the move anytime. And, please, put your phone away!

2.    See one? Expect MORE. A doe is likely to be followed by a buck during mating season, and followed by a family of deer afterward. If you see one deer, slow down and look out for the others to cross.

3.    Use your high beams. Continually scan the road back and forth, and look out for movement and “eye shine.” Deer don’t have great vision-- hence the phrase “Deer in the headlights”—they’re not stupid; they’re trying to focus on the bright light ahead of them.

4.    Slow down. Collisions are more likely when you’re speeding or on a high speed road. Deer are making poor decisions during this time and may dart suddenly in front of you. If you think you might see a deer, slow down early and get ready to stop.

5.    Honk in short bursts. While deer’s vision isn’t great, their hearing is better, and they can discern where noise is coming from. Though you should still slow down and stop, honking your horn will encourage them to move further from the road, as well as alert other nearby drivers to look out.

6.    Don’t veer. If an animal jumps in front of you, slow down as much as possible without swerving or losing control. Apply the brakes, keep your hands on the wheel and come to a controlled stop. Only steer around the animal if you can safely do so; the biggest danger comes when people veer into oncoming traffic or collide into trees on the side of the road in order to avoid the animal.

7.    Slow down. It bears repeating. You’re more likely to avoid a collision at slower speeds.

 

What should you do if you do hit an animal?

If you are injured or your car is damaged, call 911 immediately.

For injured animals, call the Humane Society of Huron Valley's (HSHV's) emergency rescue line: (734) 661-3512. Don't attempt to move an animal. HSHV provides emergency services to sick and injured wildlife and stray animals; wildlife are given medical treatment and transferred to local, licensed rehabilitators when possible. Although animals who are hit by a car are top priority, wait times may vary as a field officer may be servicing another part of the county. This service is provided free to Washtenaw County residents. For removal of dead animals from public areas, call your local police department's non-emergency line. 

 

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All images and photographs are courtesy of HSHV staff and Jeffrey E. Roush of Two Cat Studios.