FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Have you seen more deer lately during your commute?
WANE 15’s Ethan Dahlen sat down with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to discuss why the deer population may be at an all-time high and why deer collisions are on the rise.
From January 1, 2019, to November 16, 2023, the Indiana State Police reported a total of 76,468 crashes involving deer statewide.
ISP reports that in October the monthly average of car-deer collisions was 2,125.8, with November jumping up to 3,094.4 on average. Comparing this data to August, which has an average of 618.6, why are these collisions jumping by thousands in the month of November?
In short, it’s breeding season making deer more active as they move across the landscape attempting to breed. While the doe stays stationary, often choosing an area to settle down in, bucks move around searching for a doe interested in breeding during the season. This causes a higher frequency of deer-vehicle collisions this time of year.
“The total breeding season runs the entire time we see deer in hard antlers, that runs from September until mid-January, the peak of it is late October through early December,” said Joe Caudell, Indiana State Deer biologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
Caudell also describes Bucks as often distracted and aggressive with the focus being on finding the doe. This is opposite to their normal behavior out of breeding season where deer will seem more cautious.
“Studies have shown, I believe from the University of Georgia, that these collisions are also caused by bucks,” said Caudell. “During other times of year, you might get kind of an equal male-female collision but the vast majority of those increases come from hitting bucks.”
What can be done to avoid these collisions especially as roads get slick through the winter?
“First of all, be aware that it is November and that’s when most of our collisions occur, we also have a peak in collisions at those peak commuting hours, so at dawn and at dusk, when deer are most active,” said Caudell. “Don’t drive distracted, pay attention to the road be hyperfocused, especially this time of year.”
Caudell also suggests utilizing high beams when other cars are not on the road to give yourself a higher chance of seeing the deer.
As we head into winter Caudell suggests giving yourself extra time on the road as winter weather can really increase your chances of deer-related collisions.