CASPER, Wyo. — Vehicles are involved in over 6,000 wildlife collisions in Wyoming each year and 80-85% of those cases involve mule deer.
There are likely more incidents since drivers tend to report collisions only when there is damage to vehicles or the animals die upon impact.
That is according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department who add that the collisions with mule deer increase as they migrate during the fall and spring.
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“The crash risk with mule deer increases in the fall and spring when they follow historical pathways to their winter and summer ranges,” Game and Fish said on Monday, Oct. 21.
Collisions tend to occur in areas where there are large, migratory herds and around dawn and dusk hours.
“’Driver behavior can make a tremendous difference in the likelihood of a crash with wildlife,’ said Embere Hall, Wyoming Game and Fish Department Laramie regional wildlife coordinator.”
The best thing drivers can do is slow down on the roads, particularly during the peak risk hours.
“’The number one action a driver can take is slowing down,’ Hall said. ‘This could be even slower than the posted speed limit. Driving slowly gives you a better chance of stopping.’”
Leaving enough distance between other vehicles is also important so that drivers can react in time should animals be in the roadway.
“If you see wildlife, a flash of the headlights can warn oncoming cars to reduce speeds,” Game and Fish adds.
They provided these tips for drivers:
-Be as aware as possible while driving
-Use high beams to see more of the road
-Scan across the road and rights of way frequently
-Watch for eyeshine in the headlights
-Ask passengers to help watch for wildlife
-Know wildlife is attracted to the road if salt is used as a deicer and during spring green up.
-Avoid herding wildlife off the road with your car. If there is a herd, creep up slowly until they disperse. You can honk to encourage them. If they don’t budge, contact Game and Fish.Wyoming Game and Fish Department
If vehicles do collide with large wildlife, people are encouraged to report these incidents to the Wyoming Highway Patrol dispatch at 1-800-412-9090.
“Many deer may appear to be OK, but later die off the road due to broken bones,” Game and Fish adds. “If the crash does kill a deer, call authorities for help. Do not try to move a dead animal from the roadway as it can be extremely dangerous.”
Game and Fish says driver can check out maps with areas of high collision rates online.