Drivers beware – fall rut is here for deers |

Drivers beware – fall rut is here for deers

The Mountain Democrat
Automobiles take 4 to 5 times the amount of deer compared to hunting in today's California.

California Deer Association, El Dorado County Chapter

It’s that time of year again when bucks begin the chase portion of the annual deer rut.

At this time of year larger bucks that are often primarily nocturnal become active. The bucks will remain active throughout the day and night in pursuit of the next doe that is in season to breed.

Bucks will create scrapes under low-hanging branches throughout their home range and continually check these scrapes as the does in the area will urinate on them. When a buck smells a doe near ovulation he will track her down and begin to pursue her. This portion of the rut is referred to as “the chase.” This chase is particularly deadly; most often for the doe as she will dash forward randomly to evade her pursuer, often crossing roadways.

Deer dashing into roadways and cars traveling at high speed create the perfect storm for vehicle vs. deer collisions. According to Dr. Fraser Shilling of the U.C. Davis Road Ecology Center, the first road-killed animals in California were reported in 1920 by UC Berkeley professor Joseph Grinnell. Shilling reported to California Deer Association that State Farm Insurance estimates insurance claims for deer strikes account for about 21,000 deer killed per year in California by vehicles. California hunters take approximately 23,000 deer per year.

One of the biggest game changers in vehicle vs. deer collisions is to decrease speed. Going slower on rural roads allows the deer to clear the roadway or can allow motorists to slow or stop the vehicle in time. High beams helps illuminate the shoulders of the road where the deer will enter. Sheriff-elect and CDA EDC volunteer Jeff Leikauf mentioned he brings special attention to El Dorado County sheriff’s deputies this time every year to be extra deer-aware while driving.

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