According to research recently completed at the University of Georgia, the chance of hitting deer in Upson County is highest this week, November 3-9, 2015. That means drivers need to be more vigilant, especially from dusk to dawn.
Deer-vehicle collisions increase during “rutting season” because white-tailed deer move around a lot more looking for mates, according to James Stickles, lead researcher on the project. Stickles, who led the study while earning his master’s degree from UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, said researchers were able to create a map that more accurately reflects when motorists are in greater danger of hitting a deer. The new map lists specific peak dates for each of Georgia’s 159 counties.
“Now we can warn drivers in a more relevant timeframe than in the past,” said Stickles, who is now assistant deer coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
“Depending on your location in Georgia, peak rut may occur anywhere from October to December,” he said. “By knowing deer movement dates in specific areas, email blasts and other warnings to be more vigilant of deer can be distributed before, and during, times when deer-vehicle collisions are most likely to occur.”
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is already using the new map created by UGA to inform hunters of peak rut dates. The Georgia DOT is also considering using the map to develop specific motorist warnings for each region.
Here are some tips and information to help avoid potential collisions:
• Deer are unpredictable. A deer calmly standing on the side of the road can suddenly bolt into the road without warning if startled by a vehicle.
• One deer usually means more. Deer usually travel in groups, so if you see one deer, there may be more.
• Slow down as much as possible when you see a deer to either minimize damage or avoid the deer altogether.
• Deer are typically seen along roadways at dawn and dusk.
The map can be found online and downloaded at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ website, http://www.georgiawildlife.com/rut-map.
*Editor’s note: Information for this article came from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division.
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.