Drivers Should Watch for Deer as Arkansas Rut Begins


LITTLE ROCK – Accidents involving vehicular collisions with deer appear to be on the rise in the state as the Arkansas rut begins. Drivers should be on the lookout during this time of year when deer are in Arkansas rut. Inevitably, someone is going to find themselves in an accident involving a deer, and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission officials urge caution while driving.

According to estimates compiled by State Farm Insurance, 22,100 claims were made in Arkansas in 2015-2016 involving vehicular collisions with deer and elk. This is up almost 3,000 claims from 2006-2007, when 19,507 claims were made. The figure is slightly below the nine-year high of 22,673 claims in 2010-2011 and the 22,271 claims made just two years later, but Arkansas’s annual claims total has not dipped below 20,000 since. Last year’s total marked a rise of nearly 1,400 claims from the previous year.

“Just be alert,” Cory Gray, the AGFC’s deer program coordinator, urges. “If you see a deer on the side of the road, slow down, don’t swerve, don’t jeopardize your health or someone else’s trying to avoid the deer. Stay in your lane.

“Deer are diurnal animals, they want to move early in the morning at sunrise and then at sunset,” Gray said. Those are the times they feed and when they are at their most active. There is an increase in deer movement in October, November and December with a high peak in November, Gray said, because bucks are in rut.

“November is probably the riskiest time,” he says. “You look at risk management and it’s going to be November for the state.”

However, drivers should remain alert at all times if they notice deer on the roadside.

Should a collision with an animal occur, drivers should call the AGFC Radio Room at 1-800-482-9262. All deer that are killed, even in an automobile collision, need to be reported. Once reported, the driver can keep the deer for processing.

Chronic wasting disease and regulations for deer hunting in a 10-county CWD Management Zone have changed how deer can be handled, Gray notes. Deer that are killed in a vehicular collision within the 10-county zone can be kept after it is reported to the radio room, but just like with hunting, the whole deer cannot be transported out of the zone.

Gray says, “Just make sure and report the kill, if the individual wants to keep the meat. If a wildlife officer were to stop you and you have a dead deer with you, you have to have a tag or documentation. If you want to keep it for the meat, report it to the radio room for the proper documentation.”

If the animal is injured and drivers need help with the deer, they should also call the radio room to dispatch a wildlife officer to the scene, Gray said. “Absolutely make sure the animal is dead before you load it up.”

Arkansas rut


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