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Wellington Daily News - Wellington, KS
  • Watch for deer on the move

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  • The calls to the Law Enforcement Center come in around the same time each day. It's either around sunrise or around sunset when a driver will report they have just hit a deer.
    As fall weather takes over, deer in the area become more and more active as they go into rutting season.
    While the peak of rut season is in November, deer are already showing signs of being in rut. This is a particularly intense time for bucks. They tend to lose some of their survival instincts and have just one thing on their mind, said Pratt County Sheriff Vernon Chinn.
    On top of that, fall harvest is also beginning and will continue to expand across the county. As combines and grain carts roll through the fields, it stirs up the deer and they will move from cover to cover anytime during the day, Chinn said.
    Cornfields offer a good food supply as well as cover so deer tend use these areas for both. They also like milo and soybeans but they provide less cover.
    Deer also like to graze on the new wheat crop. While they enjoy CRP grass, it is late in the season for CRP and the new grass offers a more appealing meal for the deer.
    The CRP fields are where deer can be the most treacherous. They hide during the day then move out at night. But, it's not just CRP that is a problem. Anywhere the deer can get to water, shelterbelts and fields of grain are also areas where drivers need to be vigilant, Chinn said.
    Hunting season is also approaching and that will get the deer stirred up as well.
    Deer are pretty much nocturnal in their feeding habits and they tend to be most active at sunrise and sunset.
    While it's impractical to avoid driving at those times of day, drivers need to be especially alert for deer coming out of fields and trees to cross the roadways.
    Deer do not travel alone. They are always with other deer. So when a driver sees one deer they should immediately be alert for other deer.
    When drivers see deer in the road the natural tendency is to swerve to avoid hitting the deer. Too many times the driver looses control of the vehicle and ends up doing more damage to the vehicle than would have happened if the vehicle had had just hit the deer.
    Many times during the year vehicles are wrecked and occupants are injured or killed when the drivers loses control of the vehicle.
    If a driver does go off the road, they need to stay in the ditch and slow down until they have control of their vehicle then slowly come back on the roadway.
    Page 2 of 2 - Too many times a driver will go off the road and panic and jerk the wheel causing the situation to get worse.
    Besides the dangers of swerving to avoid a deer, occupants of a vehicle involved in a deer accident risk further danger if they get out of the vehicle to evaluate the damage or to check on the deer, Chinn said.
    Injured deer are dangerous. They are dealing with the pain of the injury. They can and will attack people so it is best to stay away from the deer.
    Also, depending on where the vehicle stops, people have been injured when they got out to check on the damage to the vehicle. It's much safer to stay in the vehicle if possible.
    "If you hit a deer, get off the road if at all possible and stay in the vehicle," Chinn said. "Stay in the car and avoid checking on the deer. You are at a high risk of being run over if you get out to check the deer."
    Pratt County has had two deer fatalities over the past few years. One involved a driver who was killed when a deer came through the windshield at sunset. The other was a motorcycle rider who was killed in the middle of the afternoon in clear weather when a deer come out of a field and collided with the motorcycle.

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