PROVIDENCE, RI — The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) warns motorists to be alert for deer crossing roads, particularly at dawn and dusk as breeding season continues through December.
Known as the “rut,” deer breeding begins in late October and continues through November until early December. Deer tend to move around more frequently during this time, and November is typically the peak period for collisions with vehicles.
According to DEM statistics, in 2020, the number of reported deer auto strikes was equivalent to 49 percent of the total reported hunter harvest.
Some tips for avoiding or mitigating auto collisions with deer include:
- Scan the shoulders of the road in front of you; deer may dash out from the shoulder or wooded areas adjacent to the road.
- Follow the speed limit; keeping your speed down will give you more time to respond to unexpected wildlife movements.
- Always use seat belts, since most injuries occur to drivers who are not belted.
- If a collision is unavoidable, apply the brakes firmly and remain in your lane; swerving sharply can cause an even more serious crash.
- If you see a deer while operating a motor vehicle, proceed with caution and expect more than just one deer.
Anyone who strikes a deer should exercise caution when approaching the deer, as it may only be stunned, and a person could become seriously injured by a wounded animal’s attempt to escape. In accordance with state law, any deer-vehicle collision must be reported to DEM’s 24-hour dispatch office at 401-222-3070, in addition to local police and the driver’s insurance company. Motorists can also notify the dispatch office if they observe an injured or road killed deer.
Though small consolation, the owner of the vehicle involved in the accident may choose to keep the deer with a permit from DEM. The owner may request a permit when calling DEM’s 24-hour dispatch office to report the accident.
White-tailed deer are a common sight in Rhode Island, with large populations all over the state, including many of the Bay Islands. Hunting has proven to be the most cost-effective, efficient, and successful method of controlling deer populations, which also ensures that the population remains in balance with ecological and social factors. Hunting deer is a traditional use of this natural resource for meat and hide. The learn more about the latest deer harvest and deer hunter summary, visit DEM’s website.
DEM uses information collected from reports and hunting permits as a guide to future management decisions to ensure there is continued hunting opportunity for hunters while maintaining a healthy deer population.
There is a long tradition of hunting in Rhode Island, supporting family customs, connecting people with nature, and attracting tourism to the state, according to the DEM. Hunters provide funding for wildlife conservation through their purchase of firearms and ammunition through the Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Program, and through the purchase of their state hunting licenses. Hunters and anglers purchase around 70,000 licenses, permits, stamps, and tags each year and contribute more than $235 million to Rhode Island’s economy.
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