More Deer Leads to Greater Highway Safety Concerns in Kentucky

Since the end of World War II, Kentucky’s deer herd population has increased 900 percent. Now, they’re a common and costly hazard along the state's highways.

This is the time of year with the biggest risk of collisions.

It’s mating season for deer. Plus, as farm fields are cleared for harvest, the animals also lose their hiding places.

Les Dixon, of the state transportation office in Manchester, advises motorists not to swerve to avoid deer because it can often result in a more serious collision with oncoming traffic.

“You know, stay alert to the signs of deer adjacent to the roadways. That’s the key you know because our district and every other district in the state, we’re hoping each family can avoid the danger and injury as a result of wildlife activity,” Dixon said.

In 2012, more than 27,000 deer-related crashes happened in the state, Kentucky State Police reported. There were 106 injures but no fatalities.

Boone County in northern Kentucky led the state with 158 collisions, Dixon says.

With deer plentiful, the fall hunting season is underway throughout the state. However, Mark Marraccini  Kentucky Fish and Wildlife says that certainly wasn’t the case in the 1950s.

“If you want to think back to about the decade right after World War II, Kentucky had about a thousand deer in the entire state, and most all of those were in the western part of the state. So, our deer herd has grown since then,” Marraccini said.

In recent years, Marraccini says the overall deer herd has hovered around 900,000. Now through year’s end, they’ll be a common sight along Kentucky’s roadways. Hunters are also a common sight, but Marraccini says they’re not the people stirring up the deer.

“The real misunderstanding or misinterpretation out there among a lot people is that there moving because hunters go into the woods. That’s not accurate. Hunters go into the woods because the deer are moving and it’s more likely they’ll have success,” Marraccini added.

 

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