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Kentuckians urged to watch out for deer on the road this fall

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

An “Antler Alert” is in effect across Kentucky. Issued by the State Transportation Cabinet. This signals the time of year when the risk of a deer-vehicle collision is at its highest. About half of all such crashes happen the last three months of the year. Noelle Thompson is deer program coordinator with the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. She said males are breaking up social groups and moving out of small groups to breed. Thompson said that can mean deer crossing highways, sometimes in the dark of night.

“These bucks are extremely intelligent. They will start using the time of day they know hunters aren’t out. So, they’ll seek refuge during daylight when hunters will be hunting. And then at night they’ll come out and they’ll start moving. They’ll feed more,” said Thompson.

Still, Thompson noted hunting helps reduce the number of deer-vehicle collisions annually. She added about 14% of the deer population was harvested last year.

She said shorter days and cooler nights help trigger mating season and put deer on the move. Thompson said north central Kentucky and western Kentucky have higher numbers of deer compared to eastern Kentucky.

“Well we have pretty low densities in a lot of areas in eastern Kentucky. And that’s particularly due to our EHD outbreak a few years back. So, they’re still recovering from that. It’s forested, less ag areas. So it’s kind of a slower recovery area rate for them, those deer.”

Thompson said the overall deer population, at more than 919 thousand a year ago, has remained relatively constant the last decade. Officials say to slow down upon spotting a deer crossing a roadway and don’t swerve to avoid a deer because it can lead to a more serious collision.

Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 30 years.
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