Deer-hitting season is in full effect throughout WA

Oct 20, 2022, 5:28 PM | Updated: 5:42 pm
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The possibility of Washington drivers hitting a deer at night during this time of year is more likely than you think, as Washington drivers have a 1-in-200 chance of hitting a deer, according to a 2021 consumer report.

PEMCO spokesperson Allison Leep said this is the time of year when deer migrate from higher habitats to lower areas. Because of this, deer are closer to main roads, which can cause accidents.

“This is the time of year when half to two-thirds of all deer collisions occur,” Leep said.

She said the average damage to a vehicle after hitting a deer is around $4,000. A minimum of 5,000 deer collisions occur in Washington each year.

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Washington is currently in deer mating (and hunting) season, which can also be a factor in more collisions with cars. During mating season for a buck, everything done around this time is aimed at one goal: Maximize the chances of finding a doe, according to the Auburn University Deer Lab. This is the time of year when testosterone levels reach their climax, as bucks are driven to maximize their reproductive output.

This leads bucks to be more aggressive in their pursuit, meaning they take to roads and highways more frequently.

“It’s all hormonal changes that make them less risk-averse and more active,” said Dalton, a hunter based in Texas who has spent multiple hunting seasons in the Pacific Northwest. “Collisions could also be due to more people on the road when it is dark and deer are active since it starts getting dark around the time when people are coming home from work. They’re crepuscular, so they are most active at dawn and dusk.”

Here are some quick tips to help avoid or mitigate deer encounters this year.

  • Slow down between dusk and dawn when traveling through deer country.
  • Expect more deer if you see even one.
  • Use your high beams as much as possible (they’ll widen your field of vision, allowing you to spot deer beyond the shoulder of the road).
  • Honk steadily if a deer seems “frozen” in your headlights.
  • Stay in your lane and maintain control if a deer jumps out. Swerving increases your risk of a crash.

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Deer-hitting season is in full effect throughout WA