White-tailed deer: frequent collisions

Every year, in Québec, more than 5,000 collisions between a car and a white-tailed deer – or Virginia deer – are reported.

These accidents cause human deaths in 4.4% of cases, as well as many injuries, and death of the deer in almost all cases. Most collisions occur at dawn or dusk when light is poor. They are also more frequent in June-July and in October-November.

How can these accidents be explained and particularly, how can they be avoided?

Deer often approach residential areas for the food they find there (and please note that in Mont-Tremblant, feeding deer is prohibited). In summer, they look for open, windswept areas to avoid biting insects, and they appreciate roadsides permeated with winter’s de-icing salt.

In fall, they move about in search of a partner for reproduction or to find a place to spend winter with their kind.

During thousands of years of evolution and natural selection, deer have learned to recognize their natural predators such as the wolf, coyote, bear and cougar, and a hunter on foot.

The car, which is a newcomer in its world, is not yet seen as a danger. This explains why you can get very close to a deer when in a car, whereas they hightail it out of there – literally! – if you approach them on foot…and even more so if the human is accompanied by a dog.

There are several ways to reduce the risk of collision with a deer: signage; clearing of roadsides; fences and wildlife corridors; movement detectors advising conductors of the presence of animals; and more. As an aside, the famous ultrasound whistles don’t work at all.

The best solution? Slow down in the risk areas, particularly at dawn and dusk.

You can see for yourself, up close and personal, the three species of cervids – the deer, moose, elk family – by visiting the Animalium of Mont-Tremblant.

Jacques Prescott is a biologist and co-author of a book (in French) about our cervids.

 

By the same author: Raccoon or “wild cat”? (Click the image below)

 

Jacques Prescott67 Posts

Jacques Prescott est biologiste, professeur associé à la Chaire en éco-conseil de l’Université du Québec à Chicoutimi et co-fondateur de l’Animalium, le musée zoologique de Mont-Tremblant. Spécialiste de la biodiversité et du développement durable, il est l’auteur de nombreux livres et articles sur la faune et la conservation de la nature. Il nous fait l’honneur de rejoindre notre équipe de collaborateurs et signera chaque mois une chronique intitulée Faune et flore. / Jacques Prescott is a biologist, associate professor with the Chair in Eco-Counselling of the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, and co-founder of Animalium, the zoological museum of Mont-Tremblant. A specialist in biodiversity and sustainable development, he is the author of numerous books and articles about wildlife and nature conservation. He has honoured us by joining our team of contributors and will write a monthly column entitled Wildlife and Habitat.

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