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Officials see high rate of accidents involving Wadena County deer

'Tis the season for good food, holiday lights, presents and, unfortunately, hitting a deer with your car. The rutting season has the highest rate of deer-related automobile collisions, and although the worst of it has already happened, drivers should remain alert, said Rob Naplin, wildlife supervisor at the DNR's Wildlife Management Office in Park Rapids.

"There's still activity into the first part of December," he said.

Naplin also said the reason for more crashes during the rutting season goes beyond increased movement among the deer population.

"The deer are generally not focused on their surroundings as much," he said.

As of Tuesday, Wadena County Sheriff Mike Carr said there had been approximately 17 deer-related accidents in Wadena County for the November. He also suspects there could have actually been quite a bit more in the tally, had every accident been reported to the authorities.

"You could probably double that, maybe even triple that (because) of how many people who were actually getting into car/deer accidents and just never reported it to us," Carr said.

Carr offered some tips on how to safely avoid a deer collision. He advised motorists to brake as gently as possible and gradually angle their vehicle to the right if there's a shoulder present for them to pull over. Under no circumstances should a driver swerve - especially to the left - as this puts them at risk of colliding with oncoming traffic or losing control of their own car, Carr said.

Carr added that if it comes down to either swerving or hitting the deer, a driver should simply keep going straight on, even if it means harming the animal.

"It's not necessarily human nature to hit animals, but you're better hitting an animal (than) hurting yourself," Carr said.

Naplin also had some specific advice for avoiding collisions. He cautioned drivers that if they see one deer crossing the road in front of them, they should always check for more deer following behind it before they accelerate again.

"That's when a lot of them are hit," Naplin said.

Naplin also recommended not hitting the horn when a deer is a head.