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As deer seek mates, drivers should brake

October 18, 2005|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

erinc@herald-mail.com

Diana Warner knows when deer season begins.

On her way to work, she sees carcasses along the road, and when she arrives to work at Advance Towing and Recovering in Hagerstown, she sees signs there, too - crumpled car hoods and dented bumpers.

Most of these crashes occur in October and November each year, during deer mating season.

In 2004, 77 vehicles struck animals in Washington County, according to Maryland State Highway Administration spokesman David Buck. Almost all of the incidents involved deer.

State Highway data only documents crashes on state roads, not county or city roads. Warner said she can remember at least 50 drivers at the auto body shop who struck deer last year.

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Karina Blizzard, associate director of wildlife and heritage service for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said because breeding season just started, drivers should be more cautious.

"You want to slow down, watch your speed," she said. "If you see deer on the side of the road, be more vigilant. Blow your horn."

Blizzard said motorists should slow down if they see a deer in the road, but should not swerve. During mating season, deer are more active, she said, and more likely to be seen along the road.

In 2004, Buck said 1,293 animals were hit by vehicles in Maryland. Washington County ranked seventh in the state in the number of animals struck. The most incidents occurred in November, he said.

Motorists are most likely to hit an animal with their vehicle from 6 to 8 p.m., according to State Highway Administration data.

Buck said Washington County residents might see more deer along the road due to an increase in development.

"As development starts to spread, you will start to see those numbers go up," he said. "The deer have to find somewhere to go."

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