COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – State officials are reminding motorists to be cautious of deer roaming the roads as breeding season begins this fall.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) advises that more drivers on the road accompanied by the state’s growing population increase the likelihood of deer-vehicle crashes.

Officials are urging drivers to watch for any white-tailed deer that may roam along the roads, even more during rut or breeding season. The season is said to last from October to November, with more deer moving around near the dawn and dusk hours.

“Studies show that about 45 percent of deer-vehicle collisions occur during this time, and it is related to the fact that deer naturally increase their movements related to breeding,” SCDNR said.

The following tips are provided by SCDNR for avoiding deer-vehicle collisions:

  • White-tailed deer are masters at evading predators. However, these same instincts often cause deer to bolt in front of oncoming vehicles.
  • When deer are sighted well ahead of the vehicle, sound the horn several times, flick headlights (if no oncoming traffic is present) and reduce the vehicle’s speed.
  • If deer are sighted only a short distance in front of the vehicle, these same techniques – horn and flicking lights – may spook the deer into running across the road, so in that case it’s best to just slow down.
  • Always anticipate another deer if you see one or more crossing the highway and do not expect the deer to get out of the way.
  • Most serious injuries occur when the motorist loses control of the vehicle in an effort to avoid a deer and hits an immovable object like a tree or embankment. If a collision with a deer is imminent, it is best to hit the deer rather than risk losing control of the vehicle.
  • Motorists should understand that deer-crossing signs mark a stretch of road where deer have been hit previously. However, these signs do not mark specific deer trails. Deer may frequently cross for several miles where the signs are posted.
  • Pay attention to changes in habitat types along the highway. The zone between habitat types is a likely place for deer to cross a road. Creek bottoms and where agricultural fields meet woodlands are also prime areas for deer to cross roadways.
  • Rural or secondary roads rank highest in deer-vehicle accidents because of the frequent curves and narrow shoulders.

Deer-vehicle collisions, like any crash, are to be reported to the South Carolina Highway Patrol and the driver’s insurance company.

Officials also advise that deer can be kept by drivers for consumption, given an incident report indicates the deer was killed by a vehicle and not shot illegally.