As fall progresses, Illinois drivers will soon be seeing an increase in deer/vehicle collisions. As the leaves begin to change and cooler temperatures prevail, the Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois Department of Natural Resources are reminding residents to watch out for deer. With autumn comes deer mating season, which is a time of increased activity at dawn and dusk peeking in October through December.
“We are beginning our peak season for deer-vehicle crashes,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “We ask all drivers to keep a watchful eye and remember the cardinal rule: don’t veer for deer. While the urge to swerve is instinctual, it could cause you to lose control of your vehicle or drive into oncoming traffic, increasing the severity of a crash.”
According to State Farm Insurance, Illinois ranked 34th in the nation for deer-vehicle accidents in 2019. A driver in the state had a 1-in-144 chance of having a collision, up from a 1-in-200 chance in 2018.
There are close to 1.5 million deer-caused car crashes annually, with most of them occurring in the Midwest. The number has increased over the last few years.
In 2019, a total of 16,213 crashes involved deer in Illinois. Of these, 15,605 resulted in damage to property or vehicles, while 604 caused personal injuries. Four of the crashes were fatal.
More than 40 percent of crashes involving deer in Illinois occurred in October, November and December, with November being the highest-risk month. Rural environments were the site of more than 90 percent of all motor vehicle crashes involving deer, with more than 70 percent occurring at twilight or nighttime. The top 10 Illinois counties for crashes involving deer in 2019: Cook 472, Madison 434, Sangamon 406, Will 375, Fulton 346, Peoria 340, Kane 337, Rock Island 318, Jackson 288 and Bureau 285.
If you hit a deer, pull off to the shoulder, turn on your hazard lights and call 911 to report the accident. Do not exit the vehicle to check on an injured deer or pull it from the road.
“Deer populations are common in both rural and urban areas, which mean deer-vehicle collisions can happen anywhere,” said IDNR Director Colleen Callahan. “Remember, if you do hit a deer, report the accident to local law enforcement or a conservation police officer. They can help control traffic, clear the roadway, or in the event the animal must be euthanized.”
You can take possession of a road killed deer for your personal consumption. Only Illinois residents may claim a road killed deer in the state. For more information visit dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/deer.
To report possession of a deer killed in a deer-vehicle crash, fill out the form at tinyurl.com/dnrdeer. There is no limit to the number of deer possessed under these circumstances. No part of a deer so killed can be bartered or sold. Except for law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties, it is illegal to kill a deer crippled by a collision with a motor vehicle or by methods other than lawful hunting, unless permission has been obtained from a conservation police officer.