SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is warning drivers to use extra caution to avoid vehicle/wildlife collisions, which tend to increase in November.
“The peak time to hit deer in Utah is around November,” said DWR's Daniel Olson, a wildlife migration initiative coordinator, in a news release sent to FOX 13. “It coincides with mating season and the migration. Animals are crossing more roads during the migration, and male deer move around a lot more to find mates. Plus, it doesn’t help that the daylight hours are shorter, creating lower visibility for drivers."
Drivers who have a daily evening commute will have less daylight once the switch to Standard Time is in effect, and the DWR says this can contribute to an increase in vehicle/wildlife collisions.
An increase in wildlife activity during the fall and winter months also contributes to vehicle/wildlife collisions. Big game animals migrate to lower elevations to forage for food during the colder months, and this migration brings many of the animals close to Utah highways.
DWR reports there were about 10,000 vehicle/deer collisions in Utah in 2012. The state has installed fencing and wildlife bridges over some of Utah's highways since then, and Olson believe those measures have been helping to minimize collisions.
So far this year, at least 3,500 vehicle/deer collisions have been reported. The actual number of deer/vehicle collisions could be double that number, the news release said.
How to avoid wildlife collisions
As daylight saving time ends, here are some tips from Wild Aware Utah [wildawareutah.org] to help you avoid wildlife collisions:
- Be especially alert at dawn and dusk.
- Heed wildlife crossing signs. These signs are usually placed in areas known to have a high volume of wildlife/vehicle collisions.
- Be alert on roadways near wooded, agricultural and wetland areas and also near lakes and streams.
- Scan both sides of the road as you drive. Invite passengers to help watch for wildlife.
- Do not drive distracted. Put away food, phones and other distractions.
- When possible, use high-beam headlights to better illuminate the road.
- Look for an animal’s eyeshine, which can be seen from a distance. Slow down once you have spotted an animal near the roadside.
- Some animals travel in groups, so be sure to watch for additional animals if you see one.
- Do not throw trash out of your vehicle. Not only are there penalties for littering on a highway, [le.utah.gov] but trash and food scraps can also draw animals to roadways.
What to do if you see an animal in or near the road
If you see an animal near the road, here are some additional suggestions:
- Do not swerve for a deer or small animal. Stay in your lane and slow down.
- If several animals are standing in the road, do not try to drive through them or get out of the vehicle to chase or herd them. Honk your horn and flash your lights to encourage them to move on.
- If an animal has crossed the road, continue to drive slowly and be cautious because it may try to cross again.
What to do if you hit an animal
- Pull off the road and use your hazard lights if your car is undrivable.
- Do not try to approach an injured animal.
- Call 911 or contact your local police department if you were injured or if the animal is in the roadway and could pose a threat to public safety.