It’s the harvest season — and that means more risk of car-deer accidents in northwest Iowa. For the next month, Iowa’s whitetail deer will be more active and more visible to drivers. November is the month with the highest number of deer/vehicle collisions in Iowa. Still, that trend is down, since antlerless hunting tags were significantly increased a few years ago. Those increased sightings will come as bucks become more active; even in the daytime, leading up to the mid-November peak of the rut, or breeding period. It also comes as Iowas crop fields are laid bare by harvest; pushing deer into remaining cover. A third factor is that sunrise and sunset the most active periods for deer anyway now fall in the morning and evening commute for humans. Sioux County Sheriff Dan Altena says that there are several ways to stay safe this car-deer season. Staying alert tops the list, he says.
There are peak times for deer accidents too, he says.
There are special deer crossing zones marked on several highways in the area — but he says drivers tend to ignore those signs. The Sheriff says you should keep scanning for deer in the ditches as you’re driving.
He says if you do see one deer, there are probably more than one — so slow down and be especially on the lookout for deer for the next stretch of road. Altena also advises that no one really knows if deer whistles work or not. He advises not to rely on them. Also, he advises people to wear seatbelts so that if you do get in an accident, you’ll minimize the risk of serious injury. Plus, Altena says, veering for deer is never a good idea.
Vehicle/deer crashes have dropped significantly in the last few years. For 2010, Iowas traffic deer kill was over 10,000; down from more than 13,000 in 2009and 15,000 in 2004. That period was also when more county-specific antlerless tags were issued to hunters to harvest more does and bring the herd down to mid-1990s levels across Iowa. By Scott Van Aartsen News Director