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Jan. 10, 2005



Wardens Offer Tips to Avoid Serious Deer/Car Collisions

FORT WORTH – With rutting, or deer mating season and also hunting season, deer are moving about more than usual. And as a recent fatality in this area demonstrates, there is a greater risk of damage to your car, serious injury or even death from hitting a deer. Experts offer tips to avoid doing so, or at least tips that could help avoid a more serious crash.

A 34-year-old woman from Denton County was driving on a Denton County road just east of the City of Denton recently in a semi-rural area of the metroplex when she was killed by a deer she hit. The collision caused her windshield to cave in. The deer was also killed.

Game Warden Capt. Scott Haney in Fort Worth worked on the case and has some advice to offer drivers in ANY area of Texas, which has a high white tailed deer population.

“You have to maintain your course and if you hit the deer, you hit the deer, but the affects are going to be more severe if you try to swerve or completely slam on the brakes because of the other factors that come into play when you do that (hitting other cars, weather, losing control of the vehicle). My suggestion is maintain your speed and direction. But sometimes it is just an unavoidable accident,” he said.

Though this is the first fatal deer-car collision Haney can recall in his area, deer-car accidents tally to more than 1.5 million crashes in the United States, costing an estimated $1.1 billion in vehicle damage, according to recent reports from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The average cost per insurance claim was $2,000, with costs varying depending on the type of vehicle and severity of damage, according to the Institute. During deer season, there can be dramatic movements in the deer population with a significant number of deer darting onto highways and into suburban neighborhoods. So the Institute agrees with Haney that this is the most likely time to hit a deer on the road.

“As our wildlife habitat continues to shrink, accidents with deer and other animals are likely to increase unless we are more vigilant in our driving,” said Jeanne M. Salvatore, vice president of Consumer Affairs for the Institute.

The Institute suggests the following defensive driving tips to avoid hitting a deer:

And if you have a wreck that kills a deer, the question many people want answered — can you keep the deer?

“There is a statute that says TPWD can donate animals killed accidentally by vehicles to group homes, orphanages, places like that, but typically what we do is if you want the deer, most of the time we will let you keep it. But what you need to do is contact the local sheriff's office to reach a local game warden when you hit a deer,” Haney said

Meanwhile, he continues to respond to the calls that do come in, acknowledging that many more deer are hit than are reported.

“We probably get about six or seven calls a week in my district, and we’re in a five-county area. There’s no telling how many we don’t hear of.”

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KE 2005-01-10


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