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Published: Wednesday, 11/7/2012

Motorists cautioned: Deer are on the move in November

Deer cross the path of a stopped car on Cedar Point Road in Oregon after emerging from Maumee Bay State Park. More car-deer crashes occur in November than in any other month of the year. Deer cross the path of a stopped car on Cedar Point Road in Oregon after emerging from Maumee Bay State Park. More car-deer crashes occur in November than in any other month of the year.
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Jennifer Brough of Fostoria was driving home just before dark one day last month, her internal radar on high alert for deer.

She had struck one on the same road — State Rt. 199 in Wood County — last year and her son’s cross country bus had struck one the week before.

“It was raining that day so I was definitely keeping my eyes open, and the deer literally came out of nowhere,” Ms. Brough, 41, said. “It just jumped on the hood and shoved everything forward toward the windshield.”

The impact rendered her car undriveable. She was bruised from the pull of the seatbelt. The deer apparently limped off though she suspects it went to a wooded area to die.

Welcome to November, the month when deer are on the move and more car-deer crashes occur than any other month of the year.

According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, there were 5,471 car-deer crashes in the state last November. For the entire year, there were 22,690 such accidents reported, seven of which involved a fatality.

Michigan State Police said 53,592 car-deer crashes with eight fatalities were reported last year in their state.

“There are a couple factors,” explained Scott Butterworth, wildlife management supervisor with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife. “One is that in the more agricultural areas you have the harvest going on, which pushes deer out of primarily cornfields. It takes away places for deer to hide.”

“The other thing is the breeding season is going on,” he said. “The females tend to stay in one area, which we call their home range, whereas the males will travel more looking for females that are in heat. The males are out moving around. They’ll chase does, and they aren’t paying much attention to their surroundings.”

The most likely time for them to be active is dusk and dawn.

William Witzler of Bowling Green found that out as he was heading to work on Mercer Road just north of Bowling Green about 5:20 a.m. one day last month. As he approached the intersection of Nims Road, he noticed a large group of deer in the front yard of a house.

“I slowed down, and they all ran off except one,” he said. “As I got closer, it jumped out at me.”

His pickup truck was damaged, but he was not hurt, “just a little upset about my truck,” he said.

“The farmers were taking down the corn in the fields right around there,” Mr. Witzler said.

“That’s probably why they were there — looking for a place to hide.”

Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn cautioned that deer rarely travel alone. “When you see one you really want to slow down and be extra cautious because they’re herd animals,” he said. “They really like to stay together.”

He suggested using high-beam lights when there is no oncoming traffic, and brake firmly when you see a deer but stay in your lane.

Last of all, if you hit a deer, do not touch the animal, which could hurt you or further injure itself, the sheriff warned.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.

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