Wildlife officials say deer-related crashes peak during winter, urge drivers to be cautious

Posted at 7:16 PM, Dec 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-02 21:16:17-05

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Several recent incidents of motorists hitting deer have prompted a warning to drivers to be extra cautious in migration areas.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says the number of accidents typically spikes in the winter due to colder temperatures and shorter days.

“As it gets colder and snow builds up in the higher elevations, it pushes the deer down into lower elevations," said Utah DWR spokesperson Mark Hadley. "They come own searching for food.”

An encounter with a deer can happen in a split second. Dashcam video from the Kenton County Police Department in Kentucky earlier this week shows a deer flipping over a police cruiser and running into the bushes.

A crash in Southern Utah ended with more serious consequences. St. George News reports a man driving near Enterprise went to the hospital after a deer jumped on his car. Utah Highway Patrol trooper Joe Pastor said it happened without warning,.

“The deer was crossing out of the field on a run,” Pastor said. “The deer had actually jumped over the northbound car and landed on the southbound car.”

The 70-year-old driver of the truck was air lifted to the hospital with a laceration to his neck.

DWR said the biggest advice to drivers is to just be a little extra cautious in deer areas. And since those encounters can happen so quickly, it’s best to decide beforehand how to handle that situation.

“Sometimes it might be just as safe to actually go ahead and hit that animal than try and swerve out of the way and risk some of those other things,” Hadley said.

Deer are most active during dawn and dusk. Hadley said they urge drivers to be alert during those times, and hopefully that will reduce the risk of an animal accident.

More information can be found on the DWR’s dedicated watch for deer website.