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More Deer on Roadways

Photo by Dwight Burdette

Deer activity is beginning to increase as these animals seek fall food supplies and enter their breeding season. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) urges motorists to be alert for deer and other wildlife during this time.

In the fall, deer behavior and travel patterns become unpredictable as they search for a mate. Male deer are particularly prone to wander without concern for roadways and automobiles. Motorists need to be especially alert from sunset to dawn as deer are more active during these periods.  

DNR offers drivers the following tips to avoid a collision with a deer:

  • If a driver sees a deer standing near the road they should slow down and sound the horn to scare the deer away.
  • If a driver sees a deer crossing the road ahead, they should slow down and scan for more deer because they often travel in groups.
  • Drivers should slow down and brake to avoid hitting a deer─ but should not swerve. Swerving could cause the driver to lose control of their vehicle.
  • Drivers should be extremely alert of deer in the early morning and late afternoon, since they are more active during times of low light.
  • Drivers need to drive slow and be extra cautious in areas where deer-crossing signs are posted. These warning signs indicate locations of frequent deer crossings.

  • Melody Baugher

    What should one do if one hits a deer? My car was pretty much fine but I don’t know about the deer since the light levels were pretty low and getting darker. Should one report the accident to DNR?

    • kking

      Hi Melody,
      In the unfortunate incident of hitting a deer, you should contact the state or local police if the accident caused significant damage. DNR does not track individual deer-vehicle collisions due to the volume of such cases each year (30,000+), so there is no need to contact DNR. DNR obtains estimates for the number of collisions each year from insurance agency projections and from local, county, and state road crews who pick up carcasses. Thanks for your question.
      Brian Eyler
      Deer Project Leader

  • Reuben Johnson

    If I hit a deer and it dies from being hit by my automobile can I take it and butcher it? Do I have to check it in? What is the procedure?
    Thank you.

    • kking

      Thanks for your inquiry. You can have it butchered if you obtain a Road Kill Tag for the deer. You can get this tag from an NRP officer by calling 410-260-8880 or from Wildlife Response staff, listed by county here Once you obtain that tag, it’s legal for you to possess the deer and have it butchered. These serve as proof that the deer was not taken due to poaching.

      Patricia Handy
      Wildlife and Heritage service, Information and Education Program Manager

  • Tom Aeillo

    There has been a severe increase in deer hits along the ~2 mile stretch of Rt 17 south of Middletown in Frederick County. Most of them are in the same 2 or 3 small crossing sites.

    Is there a way to have “Deer Crossing” signs placed at the appropriate places, and if so, who should we contact to have this done? This is a stretch of road where many drivers drive 60 mph or even much faster, so a human fatility is likely before long.

    • kking

      Thank you for this information. In speaking with our Wildlife & Heritage unit they said this would be something the State Highway Administration would handle.