With the season for deer-related crashes underway, local law enforcement agencies are asking drivers to be cautious and aware while on the road.
Deer-related accidents have been reported throughout the county, with 30 reported to the Highland County Sheriff’s Office, 39 to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and 14 to the Hillsboro Police Department. The Greenfield Police Department has not had any deer-related crashes within the village’s limits this year.
In comparison, the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) reported that last year Highland County saw a total of 111 such accidents. The highest number of reports came in November and December with 18 and 17 incidents, respectively.
In 2013, Highland County saw 66 deer-related accidents, ODPS reported. October and November had the highest numbers, with 11 and 17 crashes, respectively.
According to Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera, “We’re really coming up on our busy time.” He estimated that between 50 and 60 accidents are caused by deer each year in the county.
Barrera said drivers should “be aware of (their) surroundings” and “drive with extreme caution.”
He added that drivers need to be cautious “especially” around dusk and during the early morning hours. At those times, he said, deer can be more difficult to see.
If a deer is struck, Barrera said, “The best thing is … to make sure it’s off the roadway.” If it is not, then drivers should contact law enforcement for help.
Similarly, OSHP Sgt. Christopher Crisafi said drivers need to “pull off to a very safe area” and call the police. They should not try to remove the deer from the roadway themselves.
He added that apart from braking, drivers “don’t really have the chance to do anything” when a deer crosses their path.
The main way to avoid hitting a deer, Crisafi said, is “to obey the speed limit.” He added that drivers should not swerve away from the deer, as they could lose control of their car.
Crisafi also said that drivers who hit and kill a deer can keep it if they are an Ohio resident. “That happens quite a bit,” he said.
People who wish to keep the deer will be given a receipt, Crisafi said. Barrera added that the receipt comes from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and must be kept with the deer.
Hillsboro Police Department Captain Jeff Murphy echoed Barrera and Crisafi, saying that drivers should be “careful about leaving the roadway” if a deer comes into their path. Swerving could lead to other property damage or traveling into oncoming traffic.
“Be careful about reaction causing more damage than the deer would itself,” Murphy said.
Following the accident, Murphy said drivers should identify any injuries, move off the roadway, and document any damage to their vehicle.
In Greenfield, police chief Tim Hester said that “it’s kind of rare” for the village to see any deer-related crashes.
Sometimes, Hester added, such an accident will occur in Greenfield’s industrial park area, but that has not happened in a while.
Still, he said, drivers should, “Be aware it’s that time of year … Slow down and be careful.”
Hester also said that if people find a struck deer, they should call law enforcement and not approach it. Injuries have resulted, he said, from people approaching hit deer.
Reach Sarah Allen at 937-393-3456, ext. 1680, or on Twitter @SarahAllenHTG.