Whitetail dangers increase with arrival of summer
It is a dangerous time of year for white-tailed deer in Minnesota and the rifle season is still many months away. With green grass growing high in roadside ditches, swarms of mosquitoes hatching out and does forcing their yearlings to fend for th...
It is a dangerous time of year for white-tailed deer in Minnesota and the rifle season is still many months away.
With green grass growing high in roadside ditches, swarms of mosquitoes hatching out and does forcing their yearlings to fend for themselves, deer are showing up in the wrong place at the wrong time for many drivers.
"Green grass is growing, providing good supplemental food," Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Tricia Plautz said. "Perhaps another reason is that the bugs are getting so bad."
Minnesota is one of the top 10 states for vehicle-deer collisions in the country according to an insurance company report. Otter Tail County and Wadena County are on the western end of Minnesota's densest deer range so the number of vehicles colliding with the graceful, fleet-footed whitetails is high, especially at certain times of the year. While the deer are often killed, unfortunate drivers can lose their vehicle.
"We've had seven of them come in this past week," said Jim Holweg, owner of Jim's Body Shop in Wadena.
Holweg agrees with Plautz that many deer are coming out of the woods now because of bugs.
"Right now we've got a bad mosquito hatch," Holweg said. "Flies are bad later in the summer."
Does are dropping their fawns in the final days of May and the first weeks of June. To pave the way for the newborns, Holweg has found that does force their yearlings to go out on their own. Without their mothers to guide them, the yearlings can stray into danger.
"The yearlings are trying to find their own territories and it's all new to them," Holweg said.
Wadena County Sheriff Mike Carr is not surprised by the increase in deer-vehicle collisions early in the summer. He realizes in counties with large deer populations there will be accidents when summer traffic picks up.
"We definitely see an increase this time of the year," Carr said.
Carr's deputies sport guards on the front of their squad cars because they can be called on to reach a crime scene quickly. The guards do not prevent the occasional collision with a deer but they can mitigate the damage a squad receives and help the deputy reach the scene. One edge for law enforcement is a knowledge of where in the county the risks of a collision with a wild animal are the greatest.
"We're no good if we can't get to them," Carr has told his deputies.
Carr's advice is to be alert while driving at dusk, slow down and be aware of the roadsides as well as the roadway. If a deer collision is unavoidable, Carr recommended trying to brake instead of swerving. Hitting the deer might be unavoidable by just braking but swerving can result in damage to other vehicles and injuries or death to other drivers.
As dangerous as deer are in the summer and in the late fall months, Carr is even more aware of the havoc that loose cattle and horses can cause.