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More deer & cars colliding in Madison County


There's been a dramatic increase in the number of car deer collisions in Madison County this year, and authorities there are urging motorists to keep an eye out for the animals.

"This year I've seen more deer than I've ever seen," said Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley. He says that is why the number of collisions between cars and deer is up 18 percent this year.  

"The reason I think there's so many deer is there's less hunters out there. About ten years ago, we had a tick disease in the deer and a lot of people stopped hunting then," Riley said.

Add that to a strange spring weather-wise, where early heat and a late frost killed some of the deer's food sources. "I think that's why they're moving so much, looking for food," said Riley.

Statewide, there are 60,000 - 70,000 of these kinds of accidents every year, most between October and December.

And while most of the car deer collisions are simply a nuisance, some can be deadly. So Riley says motorists need to be extra careful, especially when deer are on the move -- at dawn or dusk, or the day before a storm.

"Look out for eyes looking at you.  Usually you can see them from a distance.  If a deer crosses in front of you, stop, because there's probably two or three behind it.  Very seldom do they travel alone, unless it's a buck," said the sheriff. "Just be cautious with your driving.  On these country roads, slow down and watch yourself."

And if you hit one, call authorities, and stay in your vehicle.

"Stay away from it.  A lot of times you'll just stun it, it'll get up and run away. I know stories of people who check on the deer and the deer stand up and they almost get run over by the deer. I've know the hooves are very sharp they can cut you," Riley said. "So if you hit it, stay away from it til law enforcement arrives."

Insurance companies estimate that nationally, these kinds of accidents account for $4 billion worth of property damage.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.