Mule deer buck

A buck rests near a fence in rural Wasco County. Fall brings an increase in deer crossing roads in the region as they migrate to winter feeding grounds or seek to breed. Drivers should use caution, slow down for animals and watch for wildlife warning signs.

Late September marks the beginning of the migration period for deer and elk, which must cross major highways as they head towards wintering grounds.

Between 2007 and 2017, ODOT documented 12,540 animal-vehicle collisions, including deer and elk. The actual number of collisions is higher, as many are not reported if there is minimal vehicle damage or no human injuries.

Collisions with deer and elk tend to peak in October and November, when migration and breeding (the “rut”) puts wildlife on the move, making them more likely to cross roads.

ODFW is asking Oregonians to watch out for wildlife by being aware of the following:

• The deer breeding season typically lasts from late October to late November, increasing deer activity and the potential for deer to cross roads.

• During the next few months there will be fewer daylight hours and visibility will be challenged by darkness and winter weather conditions.

• Be attentive at all times, especially sunset to sunrise for any potential hazard on or near the highway.

• When driving in areas that have special signs indicating the possible presence of wildlife, please use extra caution. These signs are posted for a reason.

• Be cautious in areas with dense vegetation along the road or while going around curves. Wildlife near the road may not be visible.

• If you see one animal, stay alert for others nearby.

• When wildlife are near or on the roadway, reduce your speed and stay in your lane. Many serious crashes are the result of drivers losing control as they swerve to avoid wildlife.

• The same advice applies for smaller wildlife like raccoons—try to stay in your lane and do not swerve for these animals. They are less dangerous to vehicles than big game animals; losing control of the vehicle is a larger concern.

• Always wear your seat belt, even the slightest collision could result in serious injuries.

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