Archive for Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Oh, deer!

Motorists warned about accidents

October 24, 2001

As Bambi's descendants scamper throughout Leavenworth County, they're posing danger to motorists.

Deer are on the move more this time of year because of breeding season, which begins in October and stretches into December.

According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, 9,537 vehicle deer accidents occurred in the state during 2000. In those accidents, 379 people were injured and one person was killed.

Clearly, the number of accidents has increased in the past two decades.

In 1990, the patrol said, 4,209 accidents caused 161 injuries, and in 1980, a total of 1,395 accidents caused 66 injuries.

If motorists take extra precautions during breeding season, they can reduce the possibility of colliding with a deer, according to Sgt. Andy Dedeke of the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Department.

"Scan the road in front of you," Dedeke said. "Don't concentrate just on the road look to the side of the road, as well. With the foliage turning brown, the deer tend to blend into the vegetation. It's real easy not to see them."

If a deer comes into a motorist's path, it probably would be safer for the motorist to hit the animal rather than to swerve to avoid the deer, Dedeke said.

That may be easier said than done.

"Your normal reaction would be to try to avoid it," he said. "You can have a much more serious accident if you do try to avoid it."

The likelihood of rollovers increases if vehicles swerve.

"Another consideration is oncoming traffic and pedestrians," he said.

Oftentimes, motorists don't see a deer until it actually has run into their vehicle.

For the next several weeks, deer will be on the move throughout the county. But increases in the human population in rural areas of Leavenworth County mean that deer are on the move year-round.

"They're being pushed toward the center of the county, and the southwest corner of the county is where we see a lot of the deer moving now," Dedeke said.

"They normally will keep moving throughout hunting season. People walking in the woods through their territory keeps them moving. After harvest is over and hunting season is over with, they'll settle down and bed down. It's an all-year thing. But this is primarily a hot time right now."

Deer involved in accidents that are salvageable are given to people whose names are on the county's "deer list," Dedeke said.

Deer involved in accidents if they are not salvageable are removed by county or state crews.

"We would ask that people not remove deer from the roadway, unless they have a deer tag from us or the state conservation officer," Dedeke said. "It is illegal to possess a deer without a deer tag."

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