Seasonal deer migration poses highway hazard

Klamath Falls, Ore. – Fall deer migration is underway, and the number of deer-related crashes in Klamath County rises dramatically.

Mark McDougal serves as a Senior Trooper with the Oregon State Police.  “We see multitudes of deer strikes – upwards of 8 a day.”

While deer can appear anytime and anywhere, McDougal notes some areas are more prone to deer crossings.  “Highway 97 north up towards Chemult, and in the Spring Creek area, and Sand Creek area – or even on Highway 66 out towards Keno.”

Dawn and dusk are the most dangerous times for deer, and drivers.

“That’s when the animals are moving around the most.”  Explains Trooper McDougal.  “And that’s when our vision is impaired the most.”

McDougal adds that hitting the deer may be safer than swerving.  “What is more concerning is the tree on the side of the road, or the log truck in the oncoming lane.”

If you do hit a deer, McDougal recommends you pull off to the side of the road.  “If it’s minor damage, then feel free to contact the Oregon State Police dispatch center.  They will give you a case number that you can then reference with your insurance company.”

Elk can pose an even bigger threat to drivers.   “A full size elk can cause much more considerable damage and injury to an occupant.”  Notes McDougal.

Trooper McDougal points out that for now, you can’t legally harvest meat from a road killed animal.  “Until some new laws come into being, an operator who strikes a deer needs to leave that deer at the scene.  There’s no harvesting yet allowed of road struck animals.”

Police say slowing down, and keeping an eye out for deer is the best way to prevent an accident.

The spring deer migration tends to happen in late April through May.

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