While vehicle accidents involving deer occur all year round, the greatest likelihood of such collisions is after dark on rural roads during November. This coincides with the height of the deer mating season.
Readers may be aware of the current rash of media coverage on the downsides of the deer population explosion. On November 18th there was a national story on deer collisions on NBC’s Nightly News -’Danger in the headlights’. Peter Alexander reported that in the US cars and motorcycles crash into deer more than 4,000 times a day, and it’s taking an increasingly deadly toll — on people. Last year a record 210 motorists were killed in collisions with animals, mostly deer. That was 40 more than the previous year and more than twice the number in 1993, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Another news story, closer to home, told of a dispatcher with the Ridgefield Police Department who received 5 deer-related vehicle accident reports on a single night last week.
The cost of vehicle repairs is enormous, totaling over $1.1 billion in the USA. In the average front-end collision, a deer causes $4,500 to $7,500 worth of repairs. This leads to inflated insurance premiums for all motorists living in areas of high density deer populations.
Fairfield County is significantly over-populated by deer. During the past five years, there were over 3,000 vehicle accidents resulting in deer deaths on Fairfield County roads reported to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)- although Howard Kilpatrick the DEP’s deer expert, estimates the actual total to be 8.6 times higher, based on a 2003 study in 8 towns across CT.
Redding reported 252 deer killed on its roads in the last 5 years. This places Redding 3rd highest of all 23 Fairfield County towns, after Ridgefield and Greenwich.
Without effective deer population control, the likelihood of accidents on our roads will continue to increase and with it the number of serious traffic accidents and further inflated car insurance premiums.
This article is one of a series by the 17-town Fairfield County Deer Management Alliance. The Alliance aims to increase public understanding of the hazards posed by an overabundant deer population, and to support legal hunting in the interests of public health and safety, and ecological balance.