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Tips for safely navigating deer on Wisconsin roads during this travel season

Deer are a road hazard this time of year in Wisconsin.
Deer are a road hazard this time of year in Wisconsin.

We’ll start with this: the next couple of days will be some of the busiest travel days in Wisconsin, and throughout the U.S. There are many hidden dangers on the road, but one of the most persistent here in Wisconsin is deer. This time of year can be particularly bad for a variety of reasons, mainly deer hazards.

Jeff Pritzl is the Wisconsin DNR’s state deer program specialist. He is well familiar with deer hazards, accidents, and how to best avoid them. "The increased incidence that usually starts the last week of October and carries through the first half of November is really surrounding the deer breeding season and just the fact that deer population is quite high right now," he says. "There's just more deer crossing more roads this time of the year because they're pursuing each other or trying to get away from each other because of breeding activity."

This high number of deer will soon be adjusted as the hunting season continues. Around half a million hunters across the state are expected to remove about 200,000 deer from the population before the season closes. Even so, encounters with deer are still likely because of how deer have adapted to cohabiting with people.

To best avoid auto accidents on the road, Pritzl says, "The main tip is just general driving safety tips. But it's accentuated as it relates to the risk and timing of places where you may encounter deer. And it's to be keeping your head up and always having an eye on the shoulder of the road."

He continues, "The main thing to remember is when you do see a deer, try to slow down as quickly as possible without losing control of the vehicle [and] not to try to swerve to miss the deer because that actually increases the risk of a worse accident happening because you lose control of the vehicle."


Joy is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Rob is All Things Considered Host and Digital Producer.
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