Nav: Home

Be on the lookout this fall: Deer-vehicle collisions increase during breeding season

September 28, 2015

Athens, Ga. - Fall is prime breeding season for deer across Georgia. It's also when drivers are more likely to hit deer that run into the road, according to a new study from the University of Georgia.

UGA researchers have completed a county-by-county analysis of when motorists should be more aware of possibly hitting a deer. They looked at breeding data and then compared it to deer-vehicle collision statistics across Georgia.

According to the study, between 2005 and 2012, there were 45,811 reported deer-vehicle collisions across all Georgia counties.

Deer-vehicle collisions increase during "rutting season" because white-tailed deer move around a lot more looking for mates, according to James Stickles, lead researcher on the project. Stickles, who led the study while earning his master's degree from UGA's Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, said researchers were able to create a map that more accurately reflects when motorists are in greater danger of hitting a deer. The new map lists specific peak dates for each of Georgia's 159 counties.

"Now we can warn drivers in a more relevant timeframe than in the past," said Stickles, who is now assistant deer coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

"Depending on your location in Georgia, peak rut may occur anywhere from October to December," he said. "By knowing deer movement dates in specific areas, email blasts and other warnings to be more vigilant of deer can be distributed before, and during, times when deer-vehicle collisions are most likely to occur."

For example, the peak time when deer are on the move in Clarke County, where UGA is located, is Nov. 10-16.

Recently published in the Journal of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the study analyzed deer-vehicle collisions from 2005 to 2012 and then compared the timing of those wrecks with available conception data, deer movement information obtained from deer wearing GPS collars in Harris County and the old "rut map" from Georgia Outdoor News. The project was funded by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is already using the new map created by UGA to inform hunters of peak rut dates. The Georgia DOT is also considering using the map to develop specific motorist warnings for each region.

There are things motorists should do to avoid hitting a deer, said Bob Warren, a professor in the Warnell School and one of the researchers on the study.

Deer are mostly active from dusk to dawn, Warren said, so that's when the risk of a deer-vehicle collision is greater.

"Any motorist driving at night needs to be especially cautious because deer will be more active during nighttime periods," he said. "This is why most deer-vehicle collisions occur early in the morning or late in the evening, because that's when deer and motorists are both most active."

Warren said that when he drives at night, he's diligent about driving at a cautious speed and scanning both sides of the road because a deer can come from either direction. But he also warned that typically, it's not the first deer that's the problem.

"Deer are rarely alone," he said. "If a motorist sees one deer, look for the second one. In many instances, it's the second deer that crosses the road that gets hit."
-end-
Other researchers on this project include David Stone, Charles Evans, Karl Miller and David Osborn, all with the Warnell School; and Charlie Killmaster from the Georgia DNR. The project was funded by the Georgia DOT.

The map can be found online and downloaded at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' website, http://www.georgiawildlife.com/rut-map.

"Using Deer-vehicle Collisions to Map White-Tailed Deer Breeding Activity in Georgia" can be found online at http://www.seafwa.org/html/journals/pdf/30%20Stickles%20et%20al%20202-207.pdf.

University of Georgia

Related Natural Resources Articles:

LGB-focused resources help stressed teens cope
Imagining a better future isn't enough to help LGB teens deal with stress related to their sexual orientation, says University of Arizona researcher Russell Toomey.
Mineral resources: Exhaustion is just a myth
Recent articles have declared that deposits of mineral raw materials will be exhausted within a few decades.
BP oil spill did $17.2 billion in damage to natural resources, scientists find
The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill did $17.2 billion in damage to the natural resources in the Gulf of Mexico, a team of scientists recently found after a six-year study of the impact of the largest oil spill in US history.
Economists price BP oil spill damage to natural resources at $17.2 billion
The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was the largest maritime oil spill in US history.
Bilingualism may save brain resources as you age
A research team established that years of bilingualism change how the brain carries out tasks that require concentrating on one piece of information without becoming distracted by other information.
New effort to promote careers in agriculture, natural resources
A new round of grants from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture is designed to promote careers in agriculture and natural resource management, and educators with the University of Tennessee Departments of Plant Sciences and Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications (ALEC) are among the grant recipients.
Human groups key to preserving natural resources
Learning between human social groups may be key to sustaining the environment, according to a new study that uses mathematical modeling to understand what factors most influence societies to conserve natural resources.
Social media photos priceless for natural resources research
Crowdsourced information can provide a continental perspective on the scenic places where people live, work and play.
Multiple resources jointly control plant diversity
It is well-established that the addition of nutrients in grassland ecosystems -- both through farming and atmospheric deposition -- reduces plant diversity.
US taps NCAR technology for new water resources forecasts
As NOAA launches a comprehensive system this month for forecasting water resources, it's turning to NCAR technology.

Related Natural Resources Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Setbacks
Failure can feel lonely and final. But can we learn from failure, even reframe it, to feel more like a temporary setback? This hour, TED speakers on changing a crushing defeat into a stepping stone. Guests include entrepreneur Leticia Gasca, psychology professor Alison Ledgerwood, astronomer Phil Plait, former professional athlete Charly Haversat, and UPS training manager Jon Bowers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".