HOMER, Ill. (WCIA) — Deer experts shed light on why deer mating season can be so dangerous for drivers.
Pam Leiter, an assistant director with the Champaign County Forest Preserve District, said in the fall, more drivers are out closer to dawn and dusk because the days are shorter and deer are more active because of mating season. Leiter said whenever it’s possible, drivers should turn on their high beams.
“Their eyes are adapted to the dark,” Leiter explained. “So, there’s a substance at the back of their eyes that reflects light so they can make the most of those low-light conditions at dusk and dawn, but that means it reflects the lights of the headbeams of your car.”
The Illinois Department of Transportation said more than 40% of deer-related car crashes happen in October, November and December, with November being the peak of the season. Out of roughly 15,600 deer-related crashes in 2018, IDOT said nearly 90% happened in rural areas.
“In general, we find that in the cooler months of the year, there will be pretty large herds in the farm fields right outside of Homer Lake Forest Preserve, maybe 20 to 30 deer or so,” Leiter said. “So, if you have a farm field right near a wooded area, deer will tend to stay in the wooded area during the day, and travel to the farm fields to feed at dawn and dusk. So, they’re crossing that road a lot and making that transition.”
Leiter also wanted drivers to remember deer travel in herds, meaning if you’ve seen one, more are likely on the way as well.