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The Rut is On; Motorists Urged to Remain Alert for Deer as Mating Season Has Begun

The annual deer mating season, or rut, is happening in Maryland and across the nation. Every year in Maryland, there are hundreds of crashes that involve a vehicle against a deer, and this can be deadly.

Deer populations are an issue not just in rural areas but in suburban neighborhoods, as well. Drivers are encouraged to be familiar with their surroundings and pay close attention to the position of other drivers.

“Deer activity will peak during their breeding season, which occurs from mid-October through November,” Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto said. “Deer often travel without regard for roads or traffic during this time period. Motorists need to be especially alert from sunset to dawn as deer are more active during this time.”

It is a natural instinct to hit the brakes and aggressively veer out of the animal’s path. This can lead to a severe crash.

Here are some tips for limiting the chance of a vehicle-deer collision:

  • Watch the shoulder. Be alert for deer standing along the shoulder as they may suddenly move into the roadway. Slow down and sound your horn to scare them.

  • Be particularly attentive in the early morning and evening periods.

  • Stay alert and slow down in areas where deer crossing signs are posted. These indicate locations of frequent deer activity.

  • Never “VEER” for deer! Making a sudden sharp turn is dangerous as it can place a driver in the path of on-coming traffic or cause the vehicle to strike a fixed object such as a tree or utility pole.

  • Be familiar with deer herding behavior. If you see one deer, chances are good that there are more to follow. Deer travel in herds.

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Deer feed primarily between sunset and sunrise and often live in forested areas or rural regions near watersheds.

  • Drive carefully at night. Use your high beams where possible and when there is no oncoming traffic. High beams illuminate a wider area.

  • Clean your windows and ensure all exterior vehicle lighting is operational. A clear windshield will help a motorist see greater distances.

  • Use peripheral vision. Scan each side of the roadside, as well as straight ahead and in the distance, for movement.

Should a motorist strike a deer, never approach an injured animal. Pull to a safe location with hazard lights on and call the police.

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