June is dairy month, when we recognize farmers and their milk-producing cows, but it’s also a special time for another of the state’s four-legged beasts.
June, not October or November, is when motorists are mostly likely to be injured by crashing into a deer, the state Department of Transportation says.
And motorcyclists are especially vulnerable.
The DOT and Wisconsin State Patrol warn motorists to be extra alert in June. That’s when does search for places to give birth and young whitetails separate from their mothers, according to a news release.
Last year, 515 motorists were injured in deer/vehicle crashes in Wisconsin, and four people were killed. All four killed were motorcyclists, the DOT said in a news release.
No deer-related fatalities were reported locally in 2018, but Rock County saw 12 injuries, Walworth County nine and Green County 13.
Traffic volumes and speeds increase in June, and more motorcycles are on the road, all contributing to the problem, the DOT says.
Law enforcement agencies responded to 20,177 deer-vehicle crashes last year. Dane County had the most such crashes, 1,033, followed by Waukesha County with 891 and Washington County with 816.
The following DOT recommendations likely come as no surprise to most drivers, but a review could prevent a crash:
- Slow down, eliminate distractions, and make sure all vehicle occupants are buckled up.
- Be especially cautious when deer are most active, in the early morning and evening.
- If a deer crosses in front of you, watch for more. One long blast of your horn might frighten the animal away.
- If a collision with a deer is unavoidable, brake firmly and stay in your lane. Avoid swerving, which can lead to a more serious crash, unless you are driving a motorcycle.
- Motorcyclists should slow down, brake firmly and swerve if necessary to avoid hitting the deer. But try to stay in your lane to avoid hitting other objects, the DOT says.
- If you hit a deer, you don’t need to call unless someone is injured, said Cmdr. Erik Chellevold of the Rock County Sheriff’s Office. But drivers might want to report accidents for insurance purposes.
- Don’t try to move an injured deer.
- When waiting for an officer, it’s generally safest to stay buckled up inside your vehicle. Walking along a highway leaves you vulnerable to being hit.
- Report deer carcasses lying on the traveled portions of roads and highways by calling 911.
- For carcasses not on the roadway, call the local county sheriff’s office using the non-emergency phone number. In Rock County, call 608-757-2244. Provide a specific location, such as proximity to a milepost, exit, intersecting highway or mailbox number.