FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Drivers will need to play close attention to the roads over the next seven days across much of metro Atlanta. Deer are on the move.
This is peak deer activity season, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division.
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Shakila Henderson-Baker of Newton County knows the deer dangers first-hand. She was driving her Infinity SUV on Duncan Road near Oxford around 5 a.m. Wednesday when a deer ran into her passenger door.
“I immediately stopped and the deer ran off,” she said. “I’ve lived in my subdivision for 15 years. There are a lot of deer out here. I know where they are. I did everything I normally do. This is the first time I’ve ever hit one.”
She said what she normally does is slow down in areas she considers deer “hot spots.”
Deer mating season occurs between October and late December. Male deer go into “rut” and begin actively searching for mates. This behavior results in an increase in deer movement, bringing them across roadways.
“In this time of the breeding season, they’re running,” said Ray Knight, owner of Alcovy Taxidermy in Walton County. “That’s the reason a lot of times people don’t have any warning of seeing them ahead. They’re darting across the road.”
As we begin to “fall back” for daylight savings time, our days become shorter and nights become longer. Rush hour for most commuters tends to fall during the same hours in which white-tailed deer are most active – dawn and dusk.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Rut Map for White-tailed deer shows Nov. 10 is the start of one of the most active weeks for deer across much of the metro area.
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The counties marked on the map for the time period include Bartow, Carroll, Catoosa, Chattahoochee, Cherokee, Clarke, Coweta, Dade, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Franklin, Fulton, Gilmer, Gwinnett, Hall, Harris, Heard, Jackson, Madison, Murray, Muscogee, Oconee, Pickens, Sumter, Talbot, Troup, Turner, Whitfield, and Wilcox Counties.
The following is information to help avoid potential collisions:
- Deer Are Unpredictable: Always remember deer are wild and, therefore, can be unpredictable. A deer calmly standing on the side of a road may bolt into or across the road rather than away from it when startled by a vehicle.
- One Deer Usually Means More: Always take caution and slow down when a deer crosses the road in front of you. Deer usually travel in groups, so it is likely that others will follow.
- Time of Day: As deer are most active at dawn and dusk, they are typically seen along roads during the early morning and late evening – the same times most people are commuting to and from work.
- Time of Year: While deer-car collisions can occur at any time of year, the fall breeding season is a peak time for such accidents. During the fall breeding season, deer movement increases and this often brings them in contact with roadways that cross their natural habitats. Road shoulders generally provide beneficial food plants both during extremely dry times of the year and following a long, hard winter. Deer are attracted to these plants in late-winter, early spring and late summer. Georgia’s deer rut map is an excellent tool for drivers to determine local peaks in deer movement. Drivers should be especially wary of deer during these time periods.
- Minimize Damage: If it is too late to avoid a collision, drivers are advised to slow down as much as possible to minimize damage – resist the urge to swerve to avoid the deer, as this may cause further damage, sending drivers off the road or causing a collision with another vehicle.
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