Deer on the highway

A dear is shown crossing a highway in this photo.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Cooler temperatures and longer nights mean more wildlife movement along and across state roads and the Missouri Department of Transportation is reminding motorists to be prepared for the sudden appearance of wild animals such as deer and coyote on Missouri roadways during the fall.

“Deer/vehicle collisions are at their peak from mid-October through the end of November,” said Natalie Roark, state maintenance director. “Shorter days mean motorists are driving on dark roads when deer are more active, which leads to a larger number of crashes involving deer and other wildlife.”

According to a news release, fall is breeding season and deer are on the move, especially at dawn and dusk. With harvest in full swing, deer may be pushed by equipment and machinery noises from bedding areas.

Drivers should never swerve to avoid animals in the road as it can cause loss of control of their vehicles, resulting in serious injury or death, noted the release. To avoid hitting a deer, always be cautious and keep eyes scanning both sides of the roadway.

“Distracted driving — particularly when wildlife is on the move — can be deadly,” Roark said. “Always buckle up and put your phone down when driving.”

Some collisions are unavoidable. If a deer/vehicle collision has resulted in the death of the deer, there are several options a motorist can take:

Missouri law allows an individual who has struck and killed a deer with their vehicle to claim the deer carcass if written authorization to possess the deer is granted by a Missouri Department of Conservation agent.

Do not jeopardize your safety to remove the animal in a high traffic area. Notify MoDOT at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (275-6636). Crews will address any deer/animal/debris on a highway that is a safety hazard, meaning that the carcass is in the driving or passing lane, or partially in either lane or on the shoulder. Crews will drag the carcass to the outer portion of the right of way, outside any active drainage ditch or channel.

If the deer is completely off the roadway, MoDOT will not pick it up unless it impedes mail delivery or is located in a neighborhood, especially at or near a bus stop.

If a deer is located on the shoulder, MoDOT will address the deer during normal work hours. MoDOT crews will not be called out after hours to remove an item, unless it is a safety hazard. MoDOT does not have specialized crews assigned to remove dead animals from the roadway and does not contract out any roadkill removal.

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