Oh deer! MoDOT reminds motorists to be deer aware during cooler months

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – As fall arrives and cooler weather sets in, more deer take to the roadways themselves, so the Missouri Department of Transportation is asking motorists to take specific actions. 

Indeed, with large water sources and forests across the state, paired with countless roads traveling through sparsely populated areas, it is customary to see a large amount of dead deer among Missouri’s 34,000 miles of state roads. According to a State Farm Insurance report, Missouri ranks 14th in the country for potential vehicle vs. animal collisions, providing a 1 in 74 chance of hitting an animal while driving.

According to Missouri law, if drivers strike and kill a deer with a vehicle, they may claim the carcass if it is authorized for possession by a Missouri Department of Conservation agent. An individual must also apply for The Wildlife Dispensation permit, which is free. Those interested are encouraged to contact the Missouri Department of Conservation to obtain the permit. 

If the deer has made its way completely off the roadway after being struck, MoDOT will not remove the animal unless it impedes mail delivery or is located inside of a residential neighborhood.

If a deceased deer is located on the shoulder, MoDOT will address the situation during normal hours. MoDOT crews will not respond after hours to remove items from roadways unless such items pose a safety hazard for motorists. 

“Fall is breeding season and deer are on the move, especially in the dark as days grow shorter,” state Maintenance Director Natalie Roark said in a press release. “Although deer strikes can occur at any time, the majority of these crashes occur in the twilight hours before sunrise and just after sunset in October and November, with the largest number taking place in November.”

In 2021 the Missouri State Highway Patrol found Missouri drivers experienced 3,779 traffic crashes involving deer – a stunning average of one crash every two hours and 18 minutes. Out of last year’s crashes, three fatalities were reported and 420 individuals were injured.

Drivers should never swerve in order to miss an animal in the roadway, MoDOT advises. Such a move can cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle, resulting in injury or death. 

MoDOT also reminds citizens to avoid removing animals from roads in high-traffic areas. Notify MoDOT at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (275-6636) if a deceased animal poses a hazardous risk. 

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