As the calendar turns to October and November, Oregonians are reminded to exercise extra caution on the roads. This is the time of year when vehicle collisions with deer and elk tend to peak, presenting dangers to both drivers and wildlife. The reasons behind this increase are manifold, with migration, breeding, reduced daylight hours, and rainy weather all contributing to the rise in these unfortunate incidents.
Each year, the Oregon Department of Transportation faces the daunting task of removing around 6,000 carcasses of deer struck and killed by vehicles near the state’s public roadways. Many more animals meet their fate away from roads or on county, city, or private roads.
Despite the challenges posed by road infrastructure and other obstacles, research by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has shown that mule deer remain steadfast in following their migratory routes. They often have no choice but to cross roads in their quest for food and shelter.
To help prevent wildlife collisions when driving, here are some essential tips:
- Pay attention to animal crossing signs placed in known crossing hotspots.
- Stay alert when driving through areas with dense vegetation or around curves, as wildlife near the road may be difficult to spot.
- If you see one animal, be on guard, as others may be nearby.
- When encountering an animal on or near the road, slow down and stay in your lane to avoid losing control due to swerving.
- Always wear your seat belt, as even a minor collision can result in serious injuries.
This season also marks the period when the most road-killed deer and elk are salvaged for their meat. If you happen to hit one of these animals or come across a carcass, it’s crucial to remember that you must fill out a free permit and turn the animal’s head in within five days. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife requires this to test for Chronic Wasting Disease.
In a bid to mitigate wildlife-vehicle collisions and preserve long-term habitat connectivity for Oregon’s wildlife, the state has been actively working on various wildlife passage projects.
A noteworthy achievement is the construction of wildlife undercrossings in strategic areas. These undercrossings are specifically designed to keep animals away from highways, creating safer environments for both wildlife and travelers.