Isolated blocks of habitat force wildlife to cross roads to find food, water, shelter or mates. Some animals are more vulnerable than others.
Because of their formidable chemical defense, skunks are rather unwary and slow-moving. Skunks are frequent victims–as any motorist with a sense of smell knows! Opossums are not only slow, but are often looking for other road-killed animals to feed on–and wind up becoming victims themselves. Groundhogs, squirrels and armadillos also make the list of frequently flattened fauna.
In most circumstances, an auto-animal collision is harmful only to the animal. But with large animals like coyotes and deer, a collision can be dangerous to the driver as well.
The number of animals killed on our roads is staggering. Fortunately, populations of animals are usually little affected, except for some species of reptiles and amphibians. For example, when box turtles are particularly active, large numbers of these harmless animals die on our highways. Many wildlife collisions are unavoidable, but motorists who stay alert can prevent many animals from winding up as vultures.
- The peak period for deer-vehicle collisions is October and November.
- Those months encompass deer breeding season, when bucks in rut are more active and likely to travel long distances in search of does.
- Shorter days also mean more drivers commute at dawn and dusk, when deer are most active.
- Jason Sumners, resource scientist at the Missouri Department of Conservation suggests using high beams when possible and keeping an eye on the ditches on both sides of the road.
- Should a deer appear, don’t swerve to avoid it: Most injuries occur when drivers lose control trying to dodge deer, not when they hit them.
Learn more about deer with the MDC Field Guide.