Harrisburg, PA – With deer becoming increasingly active, and daylight-saving time soon to put more vehicles on the road during the hours when deer move most, the Pennsylvania Game Commission is advising motorists to slow down and stay alert.
Deer become more active in autumn with the lead-up to their fall breeding season, commonly referred to as the “rut.” Around this time, many yearling bucks disperse from the areas in which they were born and travel, sometimes several dozen miles, to find new ranges. Meanwhile, adult bucks more often are cruising their home ranges in search of does, and they sometimes chase the does they encounter.
When daylight-saving time ends Nov. 7, there also will be increased vehicular traffic between dusk and dawn – the peak hours for deer activity.
“While the peak of the rut still is a few weeks off, deer already have ramped up their activity and are crossing roads more frequently,” said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “While motorists – at all times of year – should remain alert while driving and be on the lookout for whitetails, it’s especially important now and in the coming weeks.”
Data from around the country indicates Pennsylvania drivers face some of the highest risks of a vehicle collision with a deer or other large animal. A recent report shows Pennsylvania led the country in animal-collision insurance claims in the fiscal year 2020-21. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania drivers, according to the report, have a 1-in-54 chance of a vehicular accident involving a big game animal – one of the highest rates nationwide.
Drivers can reduce their chances of collisions with deer by staying alert and better understanding deer behavior. Just paying attention while driving on stretches marked with “Deer Crossing” signs can make a difference.
Deer often travel in groups and walk single file. So even if one deer successfully crosses the road in front of a driver, it doesn’t mean the threat is over. Another could be right behind it.
A driver who hits a deer with a vehicle is not required to report the accident to the Game Commission. If the deer dies, only Pennsylvania residents may claim the carcass. To do so, they must call the Game Commission region office representing the county where the accident occurred and an agency dispatcher will collect the information needed to provide a free permit number, which the caller should write down.
A resident must call within 24 hours of taking possession of the deer. A passing Pennsylvania motorist also may claim the deer, if the person whose vehicle hit it doesn’t want it.
Those taking possession of road-killed deer also are advised of rules related to Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) that prohibit the removal of high-risk deer parts – essentially the head and backbone – from any established Disease Management Area (DMA) or Established Area (EA). Those parts must be removed before the deer is transported outside a DMA or EA. For maps of these areas, the complete list of high-risk parts and other information on CWD, visit www.pgc.pa.gov.
If a deer is struck by a vehicle, but not killed, drivers are urged to maintain their distance because some deer might recover and move on. However, if a deer does not move on, or poses a public safety risk, drivers are encouraged to report the incident to a Game Commission region office or other local law-enforcement agency. If the deer must be put down, the Game Commission will direct the proper person to do so.