Cold nights increase the movement of wild animals
As the fall season arrives, wildlife, particularly deer, become more active with the cooler temperatures and longer nights. It is important for motorists to be prepared for the sudden appearance of wild animals on Missouri roadways during this time.
According to Natalie Roark, the MoDOT State Maintenance Director, shorter days mean more driving in the dark when deer are most active. This leads to an increase in vehicle collisions involving deer and other wildlife, peaking from mid-October to late November.
Missouri has seen a steady rise in deer strikes. State Farm Insurance reports that the Show-Me state is now ranked 10th in the country for possible animal collisions, up from 14th last year. This means that there is a 1 in 80 chance of hitting an animal while driving in Missouri. With approximately 34,000 miles of highways to maintain, including Missouri 7th in National Highway miles, MoDOT plays a crucial role in ensuring road safety.
In 2022 alone, Missouri drivers experienced 3,699 deer crashes, with a deer being struck every 2 hours and 20 minutes. Tragically, these accidents resulted in 5 deaths and 424 injuries.
It is essential for drivers to remember never to swerve in an attempt to avoid animals on the road. Swerving can cause them to lose control of their vehicle, leading to serious injury or death. Instead, drivers should remain alert at all times and regularly scan both sides of the road to detect any potential wildlife crossings.
According to Missouri law, if a person hits and kills a deer with their vehicle, they have the right to claim the deer carcass. However, they must obtain a written authorization from a Missouri conservation agent, which can be acquired by contacting the MDC (Missouri Department of Conservation). It is necessary to obtain a permit through the MDC, although the wildlife disposition form is free of charge.
In the case of a deer being struck on a state-operated road and if it is completely off the road, MoDOT will not remove it unless it obstructs mail delivery or poses a risk in a residential area, especially near a bus stop. If the deer is located on the shoulder, MoDOT will address it during regular work hours. It’s important to note that MoDOT does not have a dedicated team for roadkill removal and is only called for after-hours removal if it poses a safety hazard in the driving lane.
It is also crucial for individuals not to jeopardize their safety by removing animals in high traffic areas. Instead, they should notify MoDOT by calling 1-888-ASK-MODOT (275-6636). MoDOT crews will promptly address any deer, animal, or debris on the highway that poses a safety hazard, such as being in the driving or passing lane, partially obstructing either lane, or being on the shoulder. Crews will ensure that the body is dragged to the outside of the roadway, away from active drainage ditches or channels.
1. How can I avoid hitting a deer while driving?
To avoid hitting a deer, always remain alert and regularly scan both sides of the road. Never swerve to avoid an animal, as this can lead to losing control of your vehicle and causing serious harm.
2. Can I claim a deer carcass if I hit it with my vehicle?
Yes, according to Missouri law, you can claim a deer carcass if you obtain a written authorization from a Missouri conservation agent. This can be acquired by contacting the MDC (Missouri Department of Conservation) and obtaining a permit.
3. What should I do if I spot a deer or other animal on the highway?
If you spot a deer, animal, or any debris on the highway that poses a safety hazard, such as being in the driving or passing lane, partially obstructing either lane, or being on the shoulder, notify MoDOT by calling 1-888-ASK-MODOT (275-6636). They will promptly address the situation.