State officials share tips to avoid deer collisions

- It's deer mating season, which means the animals are on the move and causing more wrecks. In Georgia, we average about 50,000 wrecks involving deer each year.

They may not seem so scary at first glance, but deer are the most dangerous animal in the country. They cause more deaths than any other animal. This is the time of year to be cautious and slow down.

Charlie Killmaster is the state deer biologist with the Department of Natural Resources. He knows everything there is to know about deer. "We're just entering the early part of the breeding season, which causes deer movements to increase tremendously.  Bucks are chasing does around, and that causes them to not only be seen more but to be crossing roads more," says Killmaster.

As we prepare for the time change, it also means more drivers will be on the roads, when the deer are really moving around. "Deer are most active at dawn and dusk, that's when they tend to see the best," Killmaster adds.

Many deer like to travel in packs, so if you see one cross the road, don't let your guard down, there may be more coming out of the woods. "Oftentimes it's that second deer that's chasing the first one that ends up getting hit that you don't see," Killmaster shares.

If you can't avoid a collision, Killmaster says sometimes it's better to hit the deer. "If you see a deer, put on your brakes but don't swerve, you can make the accident a lot worse. It's actually better to hit the deer if you can't avoid it than to swerve off the road and hit something more stable like a tree or another vehicle."

Killmaster says the deer population is trending down, but an increase in cars on the roads means the potential for deadly collisions is still there. "Deer are the most dangerous animal in the United States. They are responsible for the death of more people than snakes or sharks or anything else," he adds.

Deer mating season runs about 4 to 6 weeks, between October and December, depending on where you live in Georgia. Make sure to keep using caution throughout the fall season. Georgia has a "rut map," or breeding map, online at georgiawildlife.com/rut-map.

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