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DEP Urges Motorists to Be Alert for Deer Throughout Fall Season

October 3, 2005

Fall is a time of increased movement for many species of wildlife, including white-tailed deer. Motorists should therefore exercise additional caution when driving during the fall, as it is a time when many vehicles strike deer throughout New Jersey.

In the fall deer population numbers are at a peak. Consequently, the potential for drivers to encounter them on roadways is greatly increased. Fall is also the breeding season for white-tailed deer and reproductive urges cause the animals to increase their travel habits throughout the season. This increase in activity frequently brings deer closer to roadways and therefore raises the possibility of a deer-vehicle collision.

The DEP offers the following information and tips to help avoid collisions with deer:

  • Deer are most active at dawn and dusk but are known to cross roadways throughout the year most any time of day. Commuters need to remain especially alert and drive with particular caution this time of year as peak deer activity corresponds with their usual drive times.

  • If a deer is spotted, slow down and remain alert for sudden movement. Note that if one deer crosses a road, others may follow. White-tailed deer typically move in family groups and cross single file. Deer also frequent the same paths, so watch for yellow deer crossing signs and be wary in areas where they typically cross.

  • Deer are unpredictable. They may stop in the middle of a road while crossing or re-cross back from where they came. The safest action is to slow down. If a deer remains in the road, do not try to go around it. Stop and wait until the road is clear.

  • After dark, use high-beams when there is no opposing traffic. The high beams will illuminate the eyes of deer on or near a roadway and provide greater motorist reaction time.

  • Always wear a seat belt as required by state law and drive at a safe, sensible speed for conditions

  • If it appears you are going to collide with a deer, do not maneuver to avoid impact, as the deer may also counter-maneuver. Human fatalities are more likely when motorists swerve to avoid deer and instead collide with roadside obstacles or oncoming traffic.

  • Report any deer-vehicle collisions to a local law enforcement agency immediately.

Please drive safely this fall season. For more information about deer in New Jersey, visit the DEPís Division of Fish and Wildlife Web site at www.njfishandwildlife.com/deer.htm.

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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: October 3, 2005