The expression “deer in the headlights look” may be taking on a more literal meaning for some Northwest Georgia motorists.
Nov. 3 through 9 offered the greatest probability for often-costly vehicle collisions with deer in Bartow and Paulding counties because it is the height of breeding season for the animals, a Georgia Department of Natural Resources news release stated.
“Motorists should be alert and pay close attention to roadsides as we are nearing the annual peak time of year for deer movement,” a recent news release stated.
In Bartow County, GDOT statistics show a total of 51 collisions between vehicles and deer were recorded between Nov. 3 and 9 of the years 2014 through 2018 — more than twice as high as the same time period of any other month.
Paulding County recorded 33 in the Nov. 3 through 9 period in the same years, which was significantly higher than all other months during that time period, GDOT reported.
In addition, Paulding County Sheriff’s Office records show collisions occurred regularly outside of the peak time the state Department of Natural Resources reported.
The sheriff’s office reported 11 collisions in Paulding between vehicles and deer between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30 in 2018, and seven during the same time period of 2017.
Charlie Killmaster, state deer biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division, said deer often travel in groups.
“So, if a deer crosses the road ahead of you there is a good chance that another will follow,” he said.
“In many cases, that second deer is the one hit as the driver assumes the danger has passed and fails to slow down,” Killmaster said.
The timing of the rut, or breeding season, for white-tailed deer is Nov. 3 through 9 in Paulding and Bartow counties but varies in other Georgia counties, according to information from the department.
The greater possibility of vehicles striking deer in the two counties is based on GDOT records of past collisions in the two counties, the Department of Natural Resources release stated.
“Drivers should be especially wary of deer during these time periods,” the release stated.
The department reported that during the rut, or mating season, the desire to breed causes deer to become more active compared to the rest of the year. It features a digital map at http://georgiawildlife.com/rut-map which shows local peaks in deer movement in Georgia.
“Deer mating season occurs between October and late December, depending on location. Male deer go into ‘rut’ and begin actively searching for mates.
“This behavior results in an increase in deer movement, bringing them across roadways (that cross their natural habitats).
“Bucks move more and become less secretive, making them easier to hunt and more susceptible to being hit by motor vehicles.”
A second main reason why drivers may see more deer along roads in the fall is the end of Daylight Savings Time when “our days become shorter and nights become longer.”
“Rush hour for most commuters tends to fall during the same hours in which white-tailed deer are most active – dawn and dusk,” the release stated.
State Farm Insurance reported the average national cost per claim in 2017 was $4,179 for vehicle collisions with deer.
November was the month most drivers had collisions with a deer, elk, moose or caribou in the U.S., followed by October and December, the insurance company reported.
For more information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com.