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Deer-Vehicle Collisions Can Be Reduced Using Science, Say University of Georgia Researchers

Sep 28, 2015 05:00 PM EDT
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Deer Mating
During rut season, bucks are on the lookout for does, which means deer move around a lot more. This increases the risk of deer-vehicle collisions.
(Photo : William Wise)

Autumn is deer mating season so it should come as no surprise that it's also the time when vehicular collisions increase dramatically across the U.S. but a group of reseachers from the University of Georgia (UGA) may have a partial solution to the problem. After noting that 45,811 deer-vehicle collisions were reported throughout Georgia alone between 2005 and 2012, the team examined deer location data along with collision statistics to develop a county-by-county report that indicates when and where drivers should be most cautious. Now researchers from other states are taking note of their methodology.

To conduct their experiments, UGA researchers outfitted wild deer with a GPS collars and compared their movements to hunter's rutting maps and correlated this data with information on collision spots. The result – a newly developed rutting map – is already being used to spread awareness among drivers and hunters in the state.

"Now we can warn drivers in a more relevant timeframe than in the past," James Stickles, the project's lead researcher, said in a news release. "Depending on your location in Georgia, peak rut may occur anywhere from October to December. By knowing deer movement dates in specific areas, email blasts and other warnings to be more vigilant of deer can be distributed before, and during, times when deer-vehicle collisions are most likely to occur." 

The group notes that there are plenty of precautions to be taken.

"Any motorist driving at night needs to be especially cautious because deer will be more active during nighttime periods," Bob Warren, a professor in UGA's Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, said in a statement. "This is why most deer-vehicle collisions occur early in the morning or late in the evening – that's when deer and motorists are both most active."

Warren suggests driving slower and scanning both sides of the road carefully.

"Deer are rarely alone," he added. "If a motorist sees one deer, look for the second one. In many instances, it's the second deer that crosses the road that gets hit."

The map of rut dates can be found online.

The UGA study was recently published in the Journal of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

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