Watch Out For Deer In Love In Fairfield County

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Ubiquitous in the fall — and difficult to spot on the road — deer keep themselves on the move during their mating season, which happens from now through December. Photo Credit: Flickr user micksimic

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — Shortened days, slippery downed leaves and tree limbs, and increased holiday road congestion are enough to make drivers jumpy through December.

But add to these inconveniences deer-mating season, or rutting, and it's a trifecta of dangerous driving conditions.

During deer-rutting season, bucks are actively pursuing does. "Deer are definitely 'on the move' more than usual during the rut," said Laura a field director for urban wildlife at the Humane Society of the United States. The rut, she said, also coincides with hunting season, which means deer are fleeing hunters as well.

White-tailed deer, members of the Cervidae family that calls Fairfield County home, have adapted well to suburban life, which accounts for an uptick in their population, estimated by experts to be 30 million throughout the country.

Mating season, said Simon, means that those "Watch for Deer" road signs aren't only applicable at dusk and dawn. Additionally, she said, deer are herd animals.

While deer-related crashes are generally catastrophic for the animals, they also are costly to automobile owners. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that 1.6 million deer-motor vehicle crashes occur each year nationally. Such collisions cause more than $3.6 billion in vehicle damage per year.

There were more than 10,000 deer-related vehicular incidents on the roadways of Connecticut in 2011, according to Andrew LaBonte, a wildlife biologist at the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection.

Connecticut’s AAA Foundation for Automotive Safety has these tips for head's up driving during deer-mating season:

  • Decrease speed. It gives you more time to react.
  • Look for deer-crossing signs that indicate areas where deer frequently travel. Deer are creatures of habit and often use the same path again, so remember where you see them.
  • Be alert: A deer standing near a roadside may suddenly run across the road. Slow down and use your horn to scare the deer. Never shine or flash your vehicle's lights. This can cause the deer to fixate on your vehicle. Use high beams for greater visibility.
  • Don't swerve: It can cause you to lose control of your vehicle and strike another vehicle or object along the roadway.
  • Do not rely on devices: There is no conclusive evidence that hood-mounted deer whistles and other such devices work.
  • Slow down: If a crash with a deer is unavoidable, release your foot from the brake before impact. This will raise the front end of the car during the crash and increase the likelihood that the animal will go underneath the vehicle instead of through the windshield.

One more animal to keep in mind on your ride home: Moose are now migrating farther and farther south and their populations are growing, particularly in Litchfield and northern Fairfield counties. While not as plentiful on and near roadways – yet – they are equally if not more dangerous than deer, given their size. But for now, slow down for deer in love.

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Comments (15)

pickle8:

Recognize that our "Habitat For Humanity" must be shared with its indigenous flora and fauna "residents." Man may be at the top of the food-chain, but he is becoming increasingly disrespectful of all life forms, including human-beings. Man is unconscionably raping every vestige of sanctity by warfare and unbridled atavistic greed and imperious aggression to expand his dominion. Soon it will extend to other planets with unforeseen consequences. Respect, moreover mutual respect is the only way to preserve and advance civility. As a civilization, we cannot afford to do otherwise.

Broad River:

" There were more than 10,00 deer-related vehicular incidents on the roadways of Connecticut in 2011. " This number ( what ever it is ) will nearly double every 5 years we don't hunt.
I think sport hunting should be confined to bow, there is hardly anything ' sporting ' about a rifle and high power scope.
There are scores of meat markets in CT that will dress a deer.If they were to do this for free and the meat is used to help the shelters both human and animal, the market could get an added bump in business for their charitable act.It will reduce death by starvation and disease.I can't imagine being pregnant and dying of starvation in the snow while the few remaining predators circle in for the euthanized kill. It might even help auto insurance rates come down.
Yes were are bearing in on their turf. Humans have encroached on the natural habitat Anybody thinking that killing the deer because the land is theirs,is wrong think about the American Indian. Which is more inhumane??
Good luck trying to release your foot from the brake. Just remember the doing so will most likely save your life. There was an out-of-State woman last year that died in hospital after hitting a deer on the Parkway that came at the windshield.
Using those have-a-heart traps for small annoying critters some people use are inhumane if they are not checked daily!
Please STOP feeding the Canadian Geese!

I'm not a hunter.

Paige:

Darien has a controlled bow hunt in Selleck's Woods to reduce the number of deer each year. The hunt master sets the number of deer and the animals are dressed by local markets before the meat is given to homeless shelters and food kitchens.

The first year they did the hunt, people were protesting all over the place, the second year, only two or three people showed up. I haven't heard of any recent protests.

Broad River:

I have a hunch that if the meat is cleaned and dressed for free and given away the U.S.D.A. isn't involved. Protesters shut down the Turkey Olympics at The Lake Waramague Inn years ago. These turkeys were pets and 4H projects, they couldn't have been treated better. They probably stifled a budding food scientist. I wish they'd chose their battles wisely.
As a side note margarine is never U.S.D.A. inspected ( as butter is for example) because it's a non-food.
I know of three grades of beef Prime, Choice and Commercial. When I was in the Marine Corps ( Happy Veterans Day and thank you for your service all of you.) There were huge boxes on loading docks marked Commercial. Something not offered in local markets. We live with some crazy laws. I had a wonderful meal tonight at the Southport Brewing Company, free for Veterans. They'll have my return business. Butchers, catch on

Ken P Jr:

I'm a hunter and find it MUCH easier to take deer locally with a bow than with a gun. Sure its true that if you can see it you can shoot it most of the time with a rifle, but in areas where a rifle is suitable deer numbers arent as high and they fear people more. Its hard to get a grasp on them from just living here and watching them, most deer do not act like Ffld county deer.

Iv had bad luck getting local meat cutters to touch deer. Every one cited regulations requiring their meat be USDA aproved, but I'm sure some will do it. I'm not sure if donated meat must be inspected but thats another likely cost.

IMO people concerened about conservation should ALL buy hunting licenses even if they dont hunt. As I said earlier thats where the state gets most of its money for conservation and funds for open space land acquisition.

jcurtis:

Interesting conversation. Thank you, everyone, for participating.

pickle8:

While it may be a reasonable rationalization to sanction hunting to keep populations in check, it is flawed. Humans have encroached on the natural habitat and should therefore be willing to pay the price by exercising caution during the mating season. To do otherwise imperils both human and animal life. Slow down and be vigilant, particularly at night.

Tim T:

correct

Barnstorm:

Sorry Tim but I have to side with Ken on this issue. It's not a republican or democrat issue, so why bring that up?

Yes, we have to exercise more caution this time of year, especially around dusk when the deer travel their habitual feeding routes. They are also more skittish because they are being pursued by bucks, and the bucks won't let a silly thing like a minivan keep them from their quest.

But being vigilant and slowing down will only do so much to keep us humans out of harm's way. The issue here is keeping the deer populations from harm. They will keep breeding no matter what we do, and there simply isn't enough habitat to support them.
While a rifle and a scope isn't very sporting, it is the most effective way to thin the herds. A bow and arrow may be more sporting, but it doesn't assure the kill and a deer can run off and suffer with an arrow protruding if it isn't a clean hit. The animal may suffer a long time before dying of it's wound.

I won't rule out other methods of population control either. A dart filled with contraceptives or food laced with sterilization chemicals has shown to not be very effective, but there's always room to improve science.
I also agree that hunting and harvesting the venison is another viable way to make use of our resources. But that also comes with the caveat that the meat must be inspected and shown to be disease free.

If we do nothing we can only look forward to more collisions, higher insurance premiums, more incidents of Lyme disease from deer ticks (although it is the field mice that carry most of the ticks and give the deer a bad rap), more property damage....and more deer, because they won't stop reproducing just for our sake.

Ken P Jr:

He brings it up because its all he has. I wouldnt be a Republican if the Democratic party werent so unerringly liberal, but I digress.

We cant really effectively use rifles here in most places. Archery is VERY humane and quite effective at taking deer and other big game. Neither an arrow nor a bullet will kill a deer with poor shot placement and neither is really better than the other outside of effective range. Which can cause its own issues. I took a deer 2 weeks ago with an arrow at 12 yards, it went 30 feet & fell over. People useing a rifle often take 100+ yard shots useing a gun they only shoot a couple times a year. A Bowhunter is much more likely to be ethical & more skilled.

It amazes me that people seem to dislike hunting, which is as natural as the sun & moon, but want to try dosing deer with chemicals instead. The obvious truth is that even with out modern guns & bows we arent any better predators than the ones before us. Thats why there are more deer today than there were when the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth and even with a 4 1/2 month season its tough to keep the herd in check.

I never heard of anyone testing a deer to insure it was disease free either. Perhaps to offer it for sale? I already started eating that deer from two weeks ago. We need to inspect commercial meat because of the terrible living conditions we force those animals to endure. Free ranging animals are much more disease free.

Ken P Jr:

That's silly. Hunting seasons aren't flawed policy. It's the only realistic and humane thing to do. Even ignoring vehicle accidents, we killed all the predators and certainy won't be welcoming them back in meaningful numbers. Because of that fact the deer are overpopulated in much of the country, especially in the east. If we don't hunt them the only thing controlling their numbers will be cars and old age, starvation and disease that would be immoral on every level. While it might offend some people, the best thing you can do for the deer herd s support regulated hunting. It helps keep the deer and other game animal populations in check and it generates many millions of dollars for conservation efforts. Hunting generates more money for nature conservation than all other sources combined.

Ken P Jr:

Makes perfect sense Tim, its science buddy. Why do you think we have a hunting season? Or do you disagree about the money generated and how its used? I can understand your ignorance, but I cant understand your inability to learn.

Barnstorm:

Heed the warnings! Fairfield County is one of the areas where the most deer-car collisions occur in the nation.
During the rut even the bucks come out from hiding and can be seen during the day. I once had two of them going antler to antler right on our front lawn fighting over some does. A wild show, but these creatures are crazy for a little "tail" so don't get too close. They might think you're a rival too and turn on you.
I used to be a bambi lover and opposed those "cruel" hunters. I now realize they are doing the deer a huge favor by thinning the herds. Our overdevelopment (especially here in Fairfield County) has reduced the deer habitat and there isn't enough for the numbers. The deer population will continue to grow, so we need to manage those numbers to keep the surviving deer from suffering and starvation.

Paige:

A friend lives in Massachusetts and one year not all that long ago, we had so much snow the deer were literally starving to death. I happened to be up there and was leaving the house with a cup of coffee in my hands to go to the car. A starving doe came around the side of the house and almost snatched the coffee cup out of my hands. The animal was in pitiful condition. Back inside, we called the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (or whatever they are called in MA) and they sent a ranger out to shoot the doe and take the carcass away. My friend said that they don't usually get deer in town like that and the ranger said it was the fourth sick animal he had euthanized that week. I'm not a hunter and I'd been ambivalent about culling herds before that, but after seeing that, I'm in favor of culling.

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