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Fri Oct 26 00:00:00 MDT 2001

            Montana drivers are more likely to be involved in collisions with deer, elk or other wildlife during the fall months of September, October and November than any other time of the year, according to statistics from the Department of Transportation’s Traffic and Safety Bureau. 

"An average of 236 vehicular collisions per month with wildlife were reported statewide last year in September, October and November," said Jack Williams, DOT statistician.  "In the early spring the average number of monthly collisions with wildlife is in the mid to high 80’s.  It increases to an average of 188 collisions per month in June, July and August."  Deer travel more during the fall due to breeding activities, hunting impacts and changes in their food sources.

            "We’re also seeing the number of reported collisions with wild animals going up year after year," said Jack Williams, DOT statistician.  "Fifteen years ago we had 468 wild animals involved in collisions with motorists annually statewide and in 2000 that number was up to 1,865 animals." 

            According to Williams, this increase may be due to various factors, such as people being more responsible about reporting these collisions and increased traffic in areas where wildlife commonly cross to access water.

            Either way, the state takes these numbers seriously, monitoring accident "clusters" and taking appropriate measures to safeguard both the traveling public and Montana’s wildlife.  These measures, which include wildlife crossing signs, special fences and innovative animal crossings, can serve as signals to motorists that a given area is high in wildlife activity.

            The following precautions can also aid in preventing collisions with wildlife.

  • If you see and slow for a wild animal, flick on the automobile’s hazard blinkers to warn surrounding motorists.
  • Slow down around dawn and dusk.
  • Scan the roadside for deer, watching for the reflection of your headlights in their eyes.  If a deer is grazing along the road, the animal could easily dart out as you pass.
  • Deer often travel in groups, so seeing one deer may mean that others are nearby.
  • Deer are creatures of habit.  They will cross a road in the same general area time after time.  If you see deer at a location one day, there is a good chance that they will cross in the same area again.
  • Use high-beam headlights at night in rural areas whenever oncoming vehicles are not present.
  • Try not to swerve to avoid hitting a deer.  Accidents resulting from the loss of control of the vehicle may be more severe and involve more people than accidents resulting from impact with an animal.