ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — It’s that time of year when we see deer all over the roads, and officials are urging Missouri drivers to be extra cautious.
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, we are currently in the height of deer mating season, and it’s important to be extra vigilant at dawn and dusk.
“With time changes and stuff like that and shortening day length, a lot of times people are driving to work or school or home during the very same time. So you've got an increase of traffic on the roads because of commuting, and you've got a high time when deer are active,” Missouri Department of Conservation St. Louis Regional Media Specialist Dan Zarlenga said.
This means a lot more car crashes involving deer. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Missouri saw 3,779 crashes involving deer last year.
“If you're driving and you're in a situation where you're at fairly low speeds without much traffic or anything around, and you can avoid the deer, then, yes, if you can do it safely, then try to do so," Zarlenga said. "But if you're at high speeds, there's oncoming traffic, you've got a narrow roadway, whatever, where you might fall off into a ditch or hit a tree, then, unfortunately, the best thing you can do is just go ahead and hit the deer."
In 2021, drivers hit a deer about every two hours, three people were killed and 420 people were injured, according to MSHP. The police agency urged extra caution while driving near wooded areas and fields.
“One rule of thumb is if you see one deer, there's likely to be others. So even if you see them standing by the side of the road, they're not crossing or anything, just be aware there are probably other deer in the area, so you want to pay extra attention,” Zarlenga said.
Missouri's deer population continues to grow because the state is no longer home to many Timberwolves and mountain lions, which kept the numbers down, Zarlenga said.
“So naturally, you have a hunting season. The most challenging part, though, is when you're in an urban area, it's a lot. The standard hunting seasons can't necessarily go on long with firearms. So there isn't as much hunting going on primarily. The type of hunting going on in more urban areas is archery hunting,” he said.
Although mating season technically ends in November, the Department of Conservation said to watch out for deer until about early December.
Click here to learn more about deer hunting in Missouri.