Watch Out For Deer In Love In Westchester

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Ubiquitous in the fall -- and difficult to spot on the road -- deer are on the run during their mating season, which happens from now through December. Photo Credit: Flickr user micksimic

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. — Shortened days, slippery downed leaves and tree limbs, and increased holiday road congestion are enough to make drivers jumpy through December. But add to these inconveniences deer-mating season, or rutting, and it's a trifecta of dangerous driving conditions.

During deer-rutting season, bucks are actively pursuing does. "During the rut, deer are definitely 'on the move' more than usual," said Laura a field director for urban wildlife at the Humane Society of the United States. The rut, she said, also coincides with hunting season, which means deer are fleeing hunters as well.

White-tailed deer, members of the Cervidae family that calls Westchester County home, have adapted well to suburban life, which accounts for an uptick in their population, estimated by experts to be 30 million throughout the country.

Mating season, said Simon, means that those "Watch for Deer" road signs aren't only applicable at dusk and dawn. Additionally, she said, deer are herd animals. "If you see one near the side of the road, it's likely that animal isn't traveling alone."

While deer-related crashes are catastrophic for the animals, they are also costly to automobile owners. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that 1.6 million deer-motor vehicle crashes occur each year nationally. Such collisions cause more than $3.6 billion in vehicle damage per year.

In a recent email called “Antler Alert,” the New York State Thruway Authority offered some tips for motorists:

  • Deer are more active during evening, dusk and dawn.
  • Scan shoulders of the roadside for deer eyes reflecting light at night.
  • Using high beams and sounding your horn may help to repel deer but won’t necessarily prevent a collision.
  • Slow down when approaching deer standing at the roadside, because they may run into oncoming traffic.
  • Always wear your seatbelt. 
  • If you see a deer, brake firmly. The most serious vehicle-deer accidents occur when drivers veer at high speeds and strike another vehicle or go off the road.
  • Never swerve to avoid hitting a deer. This can confuse deer and possibly cause them to go into the roadway.

Additional traveler safety tips are available on the Thruway's website.

One more animal to keep in mind on your ride home: Moose are now migrating farther and farther south, and their populations are growing, particularly in northern Westchester County. While not as plentiful on and near roadways – yet – they are equally if not more dangerous than deer, given their size. But for now, make sure to slow down for deer in love.

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Comments (5)

Michael John:

C'mon now... If you want us to take your site as being credible you'll have to check your facts. Hunting does Not even belong in the conversation as contributing to the issue. Kudos toTimmyD for stating the facts so eloquently. Heightened deer activity around sunset and sunrise that coincides with more cars on the road at that time due to the shortened daylight hours and clock change is a major factor, along with the rut. By the way, if you are going to seek out advice on deer activity from an expert, try contacting the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for an objective perspective as opposed to an extremist organization such as the Humane Society. You know, we are all cruel humans who have invaded the wilds of Westchester and drive our cars around killing animals. More hunters would equate to fewer deer car collisions, as the carry capacity of the land and the number of deer is brought into balance. It's why the state sanctions hunting... It is a self funding (I pay for the privilege) means of culling deer. Gee, or should we spend our tax dollars to reduce the population? Yup, we don't pay enough taxes...LOL!

Gaurand:

Whatever. Deer are overwhelming the ecosystem since their natural predators are largely non-existent. Deer population is millions higher than what the environment can actually support, but numbers grow thanks to human development. Deer are immensely destructive and carry disease, so please stop blaming the human race.

Giga Paladin:

Enjoy and learn. Stay and learn. Love and living give us plenty of opportunities to experientially understand the hidden truths and mysteries in the ages. Life with out love is clear and meaningless. Existence motivated by love is purposeful and also glorious!

TimmyD:

Julie & Laura,
Before misleading your readership, please get your facts straight and attempt to withhold your opinions.
While the rut is one of the reasons for greater movement, particularly bucks who are "blind-stupid" in their movement at this time of year, the single greatest reason for Deer/Car occurances is the confluence of shortened days-RUSH HOUR TRAFFICE with Deer movement.
You see, it's simple math, greater car traffic densisty means less space between cars, thus more incidents of contact. Deer move by daylight, people move largely by a clock. When rush hour now cooincides with DUSK, you have the problem.
Per hunters, they have VERY LITTLE affect, dogs walkers, woods walkers move far more Deer than do quielty posted hunters who sit still in the woods !!

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