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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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news releases

October 8, 2014

Contact:  Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Lawrence Ragonese (609) 292-2994
Bob Considine (609) 984-1795


(14/P111) TRENTON – The Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is urging motorists to be alert for white-tailed deer on roads with the arrival of the fall breeding season.

Deer tend to be much more active at this time of the year, and may suddenly dart across roadways. Motorists are urged to be especially attentive during morning and evening commutes when visibility may be poor. Research by State Farm Insurance indicates that deer were involved in 26,860 motor vehicle accidents in 2013. The number may actually be significantly higher due to unreported collisions.

“Drivers should use extra caution to avoid collisions that could result in injuries and damage to their vehicles, as deer movements related to breeding have begun and will pick up in the coming weeks,” said Division of Fish and Wildlife Director David Chanda. “Caution will become even more important when daylight saving time ends Nov. 2, causing commutes to align with periods when deer are most active.”

Studies indicate the peak mating season for deer in New Jersey runs from late October, throughout November, and into mid-December in all regions of the state, beginning earliest in northern regions. This is known as the fall rutting season.

Motorists are encouraged to alert the Department of Transportation of dead deer they find along the state highway system and deer crossing locations. DOT has made it easy and convenient for residents to do so online at

Triggered by shorter days and cooler weather, deer disperse and move around considerably as they search for mates. The danger is particularly high at dawn and dusk when many people are commuting to and from work and light may be low or sun glare is a problem.

The following tips are offered to help motorists stay safe:

  • If you spot a deer, slow down and pay attention to possible sudden movement. If the deer doesn’t move, don’t go around it. Wait for the deer to pass and the road is clear.
  •  Pay attention to “Deer Crossing” signs. Slow down when traveling through areas known to have a high concentration of deer so you will have ample time to stop if necessary.
  • If you are traveling after dark, use high beams when there is no oncoming traffic. High beams will be reflected by the eyes of deer on or near roads. If you see one deer, be on guard: others may be in the area. Deer typically move in family groups at this time of year and cross roads single-file. Female deer are being chased by bucks and during breeding phase are often unaware of traffic.
  • Don’t tailgate. Remember: the driver in front of you might have to stop suddenly to avoid hitting a deer.
  • Always wear a seatbelt, as required by law. Drive at a safe and sensible speed, taking into account weather, available lighting, traffic, curves and other road conditions.
  •  If a collision appears inevitable, do not swerve to avoid impact. The deer may counter-maneuver suddenly. Brake appropriately, but stay in your lane. Collisions are more likely to become fatal when a driver swerves to avoid a deer and instead collides with oncoming traffic or a fixed structure along the road.
  • Report any deer-vehicle collision to a local law enforcement agency immediately.

As a result of New Jersey’s proactive deer management policies, the estimated population of deer in the state derived from a formula based on deer harvested during hunting seasons is about 105,000, down from 204,000 in 1995. This number does not factor in deer inhabiting areas where hunting is not permitted.

For more information about white-tailed deer in New Jersey, visit:




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Last Updated: September 30, 2014