Deer-car collisions on the rise in Oregon

Central Oregon also seeing uptick in reports

POSTED: 7:09 PM PST November 15, 2013    UPDATED: 3:51 PM PST November 16, 2013 
BEND, Ore. -

Does it seem like everywhere you drive, you see more and more deer?

Well, you're not seeing things.

"We estimate we lose 1,000 deer a year on Central Oregon roads just by motor vehicles, and that's huge," Corey Heath, a biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in Bend, said Friday.

November is a dangerous month for deer and drivers.

"They're moving through lower elevations in Central Oregon to the winter ranges, and it's the breeding season also, so people usually see more deer this time of year," Heath said.
    
According to the Oregon Department of Transportation's crash analysis report, wildlife-involved collisions have been on the rise statewide.

Last year, 1,283 such crashes were reported. That's up from 1,199 reported back in 2011.

While deputies and officers put the deer out of its misery after a crash, it's the crew at the Deschutes County Road Department that cleans up the carcasses.

Lately, their phones have been ringing off the hook.

"We've seen an increase, because we normally get 8-10 calls, and this week we had 20. It's one of our records, we think. This year, that's above even last year's numbers," said Tom Shamberger with the road department.

So what do you do if you hit a deer?

First things first, call Bend Police, Deschutes County Sheriff's Office (or your local police agency) or ODFW.

Officials say if it's wounded but still alive, you can take matters into your own hands.

"The most humane thing to do is put the animal down, so if you have the means to do that, you can legally can do that," Heath said.

If the deer is dead, you can move it off the road, so it's safe for other drivers.

But officials say under no circumstance can you take the carcass.

"It's not lawful for someone to take the deer, put it in their truck and then take it home and put it in their freezer. That is illegal," Heath said.

But to avoid that all together, ODFW officials say it's simple -- slow down.

"Keep a sharp eye out, and be prepared for more than one deer crossing the road," Heath said.