CAPE MAY COUNTY – Shorter days and cooler weather means that the county’s deer season will be looking for mates, and representatives with the state Division of Fish and Wildlife have advised motorists to be alert for white-tails as they seek their significant others.
“Deer are involved in thousands of collisions with motor vehicles in New Jersey each year, with the highest number occurring during the fall mating season," said Larry Herrighty, director Division of Fish and Wildlife.
“We strongly urge all motorists to be particularly alert to the possibility of deer suddenly darting onto roadways and to be aware of some steps they can take to reduce the risk of serious injury to themselves or their passengers.”
Deer are apt to suddenly sprint onto roadways as bucks actively pursue does. This activity, known as the fall rut, is most pronounced in the early morning and around sunset, when visibility can be difficult, Herrighty saidt.
Caution is even more important when Daylight Saving Time ends Nov. 5, causing commutes to align with periods when deer are most active and lighting conditions can be most difficult for motorists.
Division officials offered these tips:
• If you see a deer, slow down. If the deer is in the road and doesn't move, don't go around it. Wait for the deer to pass.
• Pay attention to "Deer Crossing" signs. Slow down for ample time to stop if necessary.
• If traveling after dark, use high beams which will be reflected by the eyes of deer on or near roads.
• If a collision appears inevitable, do not swerve to avoid impact. The deer may counter-maneuver. Brake, but stay in your lane. Collisions are more likely to become fatal when a driver swerves to avoid a deer and instead collides with oncoming traffic or a fixed structure along the road.
• Report any deer-vehicle collision to a local law enforcement agency immediately.
Motorists should report dead dear along a state highway to the Department of Transportation: www.nj.gov/transportation/commuter/potholeform.shtm
Municipal and county governments are responsible for removal of dead deer from roads they maintain.
Peak rutting season for deer in New Jersey runs from late October, throughout November, and into mid-December in all areas of the state, beginning earliest in northern regions.
For more information about white-tailed deer in New Jersey, see njfishandwildlife.com/deer.htm.