Accidents with Deer: How to Prevent Them, and What to Do When it Happens

Accidents with Deer: How to Prevent Them, and What to Do When it Happens

Wisconsin has over 20,000 car accidents each year caused by deer, and the counties in Lake Country have the highest rate of deer-related accidents in our state. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to reduce your chance of becoming part of these statistics. Here’s what you need to know to avoid deer collisions and what to do after you hit a deer.

What Can I Do to Avoid Hitting Deer?

Here’s where and when you’re at highest risk of a collision:

– September and October are the peak mating season for deer. This makes them more active and more likely to cross over roads.
– Deer are mostly nocturnal, and they’re most active early in the morning, just before dawn and during dawn.
– Deer aren’t just in the wilderness. They like to pick through trash, so they’re a fairly common site in towns and suburbs.
– Deer crossing signs are placed in areas that have had a high accident rate over the past three years. While marked road sections may not look different from other sections, terrain differences in the surrounding area can have a major effect on the places deer choose to cross. That said, deer can be found everywhere in this part of the country, regardless of signage.
– Deer travel in packs. If you see one deer, there are probably others not far behind.

What Should I Do if I Encounter a Deer?

If a deer is “caught in the headlights,” it thinks your car is a predator. Its first reaction will be to stay still so it can’t be seen. Its next reaction will be to jump in a random direction. That means swerving will put you at greater risk of hitting the deer or hitting an obstacle on the side of the road.

Instead, slow down as much as possible. The slower your vehicle is moving during impact, the less damage it will do to the deer and your vehicle. Check the sides of the road for other deer that may be passing through.

What Do I Do if I Hit a Deer?

Turn on your hazard lights. If your car can move under its own power, pull off to the side of the road. If it’s stuck in the lane, get out of your vehicle and walk to the side of the road, so you’re out of the path of traffic. Stay away from the deer. Injured deer are unpredictable and are likely to attack.

Call emergency services. They can send someone out to deal with the deer and fill out a police report. Even if the damage is minor and the deer ran off, police in the area need to know there’s an injured deer in the area that may pose a danger to other motorists.

Take photos of the damage and the collision site. This will come in handy if you need to file an insurance claim. Check over your vehicle for any hidden damage. While the impact may look minor from the outside, it may be enough to damage the suspension or brake lines that carry coolant, oil and brake fluid. Be sure to check any fluid you see on the ground.

Does Insurance Cover the Damage?

It depends on your insurance policy and the type of accident.

Comprehensive coverage pays to repair any damage, regardless of circumstances. If you have this coverage and you hit the deer, it’s covered.

Collision policies cover damage caused by vehicles and other objects, but animals are excluded. However, if you hit something while trying to avoid a deer, it’s covered.

In all other cases, you’ll be responsible for paying repair costs.

What Happens to the Deer?

Here in Wisconsin, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) deals with deer killed in auto accidents just like they would if it was killed by a hunter.

If you have a hunting or fishing license, or you registered a boat, snowmobile or off-road vehicle with the DNR, you have a DNR ID. This lets you claim the animal. From there, you are allowed to take it to a meat processor or taxidermist for processing. In most Wisconsin counties, you must do this within 72 hours to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease. In other words, if you already have a DNR ID, you can take your “trophy.” Otherwise, you probably won’t be able to file the paperwork soon enough to get the deer for yourself.

After an Accident, Go to Merton Auto Body

When you need collision repair in Lake Country, visit Merton Auto Body. Our “keys to keys” cycle is normally under three days, and we have an appraiser on staff who will work with your insurance company. That means you’ll get your car back as quickly as possible. We’re just down the road from the Ironwood Golf Course, just a short drive or tow away from Pewaukee, Hartland, Lisbon or North Lake.

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