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Drivers, be Alert for Deer During Mating Season


With days growing shorter, the RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM) cautions motorists to be on high alert for deer crossing roadways, particularly at dawn and dusk.

The deer breeding season (known as the "rut") begins in late October and continues through November until early December. Deer tend to move around more frequently during this time, and November is typically the peak period for collisions with motor vehicles.

Some tips for avoiding or mitigating auto collisions with deer include:

  • Scan the shoulders of the road in front of you; deer may dash out from the shoulder or wooded areas adjacent to the road.

  • Follow the speed limit; keeping your speed down will give you more time to respond to unexpected wildlife movements.

  • Always use seat belts, since most injuries occur to drivers who are not belted.

  • If a collision is unavoidable, apply the brakes firmly and remain in your lane; swerving sharply can cause an even more serious crash.

  • If you see a deer while operating a motor vehicle, proceed with caution and expect more than just one deer to appear.

Anyone who strikes a deer should exercise caution when approaching the deer, as it may only be stunned, and a person could become seriously injured by a wounded animal's attempt to escape.

In accordance with state law, any deer-vehicle collision must be reported to DEM's 24-hour dispatch office at 222-3070, as well as to local police and the driver's insurance company. Motorists also can notify the dispatcher if you see an injured or road-killed deer.

Though small consolation, the owner of the vehicle involved in the accident may choose to keep the deer with a permit from DEM. The owner may request a permit when calling the 24-hour dispatch office to report the accident.

DEM works to protect and enhance wildlife habitat in Rhode Island forests and management areas to ensure healthier, more diverse, and abundant wildlife populations. White-tailed deer are a common sight in Rhode Island, with large populations all over the state, including many of the Bay Islands.

Also, DEM is seeking a Wildlife Recovery Seasonal Assistant to work with the DEM Division of Law Enforcement (DLE). This position is responsible for assisting and supporting the recovery, disposal, and care of sick, injured, and/or dead wildlife; including owls, hawks, eagles, and especially deer killed by auto strikes.

By joining #TeamDEM, you will support the agency's mission of protecting natural resources, public health, and public safety. A full description of this opportunity and an application are available online. Applications must be submitted by Nov. 12, 2022 at 11:59 PM.

For more information about DEM divisions and programs, visit www.dem.ri.gov or follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem) for timely updates. Follow DEM's Division of Fish and Wildlife for more information on deer hunting and other timely updates on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rifishwildlife and Instagram (@ri.fishwildlife).