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Preventing Deer and Vehicle Collisions

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, in 2010 at least 26,595 deer were killed by motor vehicles in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) reports that in 2010, 14 people died in 13 fatal motor vehicle-deer crashes. Furthermore, 65 people suffered incapacitating injuries, while other less serious injuries totaled 204. Another 120 people were reported as being possibly injured in vehicle collisions with deer.

Motorcyclists especially should be alert to deer on the roadways. In 2010, again according to the WI DOT, 68.8% of motorcycle-deer crashes resulted in a fatality or injury to a motorcyclist. Thirteen of the 14 motor vehicle/deer crash fatalities in 2010 were motorcyclists. Compare this to an injury/fatality rate of 3.9% for occupants of passenger cars, and 1.7% for occupants of utility trucks involved in deer crashes.

The wildlife experts at the WHS Wildlife Rehabilitation Center recommend taking the following precautions to avoid collisions with deer:

  • Stay alert. Watch for deer near roadways.
  • Slow down whenever you see deer near roadways. They are very unpredictable.
  • Slow down in deer crossing zones. The signs are posted because a high number of deer crossings have been reported in that area.
  • Don’t overdrive your headlights by driving at excessive speeds at night. If a deer jumps out into the roadway, will you be able to stop in time? Slow down to make sure you can brake to avoid deer.
  • Use your high-beams when driving at night when you can.
  • Get your vehicle’s brakes and tires checked to be sure they are in good condition.
  • Avoid swerving from your lane to miss a deer. This could cause your car to lose control, strike an oncoming car or leave the roadway.
  • Watch for more than one deer. Deer often travel in groups.
  • Avoid frightening deer. Deer that wander into neighborhoods are often very easily frightened and unpredictable. Loud noises or being approached by people or dogs may cause them to run into traffic or even panic and jump through a window! Deer in neighborhoods will usually find their way to more suitable habitat if left undisturbed.

If you have questions about a deer that seems to be in distress in Milwaukee County, call the Wisconsin Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at (414) 431-6204.

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