Drivers are advised to stay alert as they travel Iowa’s roadsides over the coming weeks. Autumn deer behavior, crop harvest and peak travel times for motorists combine to hike the risk of vehicle-deer collisions in Iowa.
From the middle of October until the third week of November, Iowa bucks become more active in the pursuit of does during the breeding season. Motorist may be distracted by the first deer that crosses not seeing the pursuing buck. This adds to multiple scenarios of fast moving, unpredictable deer crossing highways.
The crop harvest is already in full swing, concentrating deer into remaining cover that is often brushy creeks, trees or fence lines which often intersect with roads. A third factor will be the change away from daylight savings time on November 5, placing more Iowans behind the wheel during the deer-heavy dawn and dusk periods.
A few ways to give drivers an edge during this period are to reduce speed, increase following distance from other cars, and to sweep eye movements from ditch to ditch, especially during those low light periods and when approaching those brushy or tree lined ‘funnels’ near roads. Drivers are also encouraged not to ‘veer for deer,’ leaving the lane of traffic could cause a collision with another vehicle or a roadside obstacle, such as a utility pole or culvert.
Iowa’s deer herd is managed to provide a harvest of between 100,000 and 120,000 annually, that is achieved by providing additional opportunities for hunters to harvest does. Last year, Iowa hunters reported harvesting nearly 110,000 deer.