Somerset Wildlife Trust

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Slow down, watch out, deer about

 2nd Dec 2011

Red Deer 250As winter approaches, the shorter days are giving rise to an annual peak in deer vehicle collisions.  Rush hour traffic is coinciding with dawn and dusk which are the hours that deer tend to be most active.

The Quantock Hills AONB Service is helping to support the UK Deer Vehicle Collisions Project by asking drivers to be aware, and on the look out for deer crossing the road.

74,000 incidents each year?

In Somerset there is estimated to be more than 300 deer hit on the roads every year, and in recent years an average of 4 people a year within Somerset have been injured in accidents involving hitting or swerving to avoid deer in the road. The Deer Initiative, a group of charities and government agencies aimed at controlling the number of deer in Britain, estimates that there were at least 42,000 traffic collisions involving deer last year, but that figure could be as high as 74,000 as many incidents go unreported.

Dawn and dusk dangers

With rush hour occurring at dawn and dusk, drivers encounter deer when they are both at their most active and harder to spot. Dr Jochen Langbein, Project Leader from  the UK Deer Vehicle Collisions Project says:
"Deer are more active at these times because there are usually not so many humans about. At dawn and dusk they come out to feed as they feel safer. It is also important to remember that deer are often in groups, and people should be prepared for several more being around if they spot one. Many drivers managed to miss one deer only to collide with a second,"
Drivers should be aware that on rural roads, particularly wooded areas, there may be very little warning before one or several deer will bolt across a road. A red deer can weigh upwards of 200lbs (90kg), which can do a lot of damage. 
Do take note of deer warning signs, by driving with caution at or below the posted speed limit. Such signs really are positioned only where animal crossings are likely.
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Red Deer © Matthew Peaster