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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

MoDOT News Release: Watch for wildlife movement on state roads

Watch for wildlife movement on state roads

Missouri ranks 15th in the country for potential vehicle/deer collisions

JEFFERSON CITY — It’s always exciting to see wildlife like deer and coyote when driving through rural Missouri—until they decide to jump into the road in front of your car. The Missouri Department of Transportation reminds motorists to be prepared for the sudden appearance of wild animals on Missouri roadways during the cooler fall months.

“As the days grow shorter, more motorists are driving on dark roads when deer are more active,” said Natalie Roark, state maintenance director. “This leads to a larger number of crashes involving deer and other wildlife from mid-October through the end of November.”

Fall is breeding season and deer are on the move. A report from State Farm Insurance ranks Missouri 15th in the country for potential deer collisions.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, there were 3,639 traffic crashes involving deer in 2020, resulting in 348 injuries and five deaths. Most deer strikes occurred at dawn and dusk in October and November.

Drivers should never swerve to avoid animals in the road as it can cause loss of control of their vehicles, resulting in serious injury or death. To avoid hitting a deer, always be cautious and keep your eyes scanning both sides of the roadway.

“Distracted driving—particularly when wildlife is on the move—can be deadly,” Roark said. “Always buckle up and put your phone down when driving.”

If you can’t avoid a collision and it has resulted in the death of the deer, there are several options you can take:

According to Missouri law, an individual who has struck and killed a deer with their vehicle may claim the deer carcass if written authorization to possess the deer is granted by a Missouri Department of Conservation agent. 

The Wildlife Dispensation permit is free, but you need to contact the Missouri Department of Conservation to obtain the permit.

Do not jeopardize your safety to remove the animal in a high traffic area. Notify MoDOT at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (275-6636). Crews will address any deer/animal/debris on a highway that is a safety hazard, meaning that the carcass is in the driving or passing lane, or partially in either lane or on the shoulder. Crews will drag the carcass to the outer portion of the right of way, outside any active drainage ditch or channel.

If the deer is completely off the roadway, MoDOT will not pick it up unless it impedes mail delivery or is in a neighborhood, especially at or near a bus stop.

If a deer is located on the shoulder, MoDOT will address the deer during normal work hours. MoDOT crews will not be called out after hours to remove an item, unless it is a safety hazard. MoDOT does not have specialized crews assigned to remove dead animals from the roadway and does not contract out any roadkill removal.