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Drivers should watch for deer on state roads

Oct 22, 2020

Deer in foliage

As the states’ human population increases, and more people move to the country increasing commuting traffic, so does deer-vehicle collisions.

Drivers throughout the state should be cautious of roaming white-tailed deer throughout the year, especially during the rut or breeding season, typically from October to November.

Studies show that about 45% of deer-vehicle collisions occur during this time as deer naturally increase their movements related to breeding.

Most vehicle collisions occur near dawn and dusk because deer tend to move more during these times. Unfortunately, these are also the times that most humans commute to work in their vehicles.

Although deer-vehicle collisions are an issue in South Carolina, the state is in a much better position than most states, particularly states in the Northeast and upper Midwest where there are a reported 30,000-50,000 deer-vehicle collisions annually.

The S.C. Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) reported approximately 3,086 reported deer-vehicle collisions in 2019, similar to the year prior.

Sound deer management through regulated annual harvest is the most effective way of curtailing deer-vehicle collisions but following some common sense rules for driving defensively in deer country will make the trip safer.

South Carolina’s deer population peaked in the late 1990’s, as did the number of deer-vehicle collisions. Since the year 2000, however, the estimated statewide deer population has decreased approximately 30% with the decline believed to be a combination of changes in habitat, high antlerless deer harvests and coyote predation on deer fawns.

What should motorists do if they hit a deer? Report the incident to SCDPS or local law enforcement and to your insurance company.

Drivers can keep deer for consumption as long as there is an incident report demonstrating that the deer was killed by a vehicle and not illegally shot.

SCDNR nor any other state agency will compensate motorists for injuries or damages resulting from deer collisions.