Here’s how to avoid a collision during big game mating, migration season

Here’s how to avoid a collision during big game mating, migration season
HA HA HA! From Mark Vogt Photography, "The deer was caught with it's mouth full under an apple tree near Priest River"

It’s mating and migration season for big game animals and that means you need to be extra careful on the road.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game asks that motorists slow down and be cautious.

Deer mating season occurs in November and they tend to be active and sometimes inattentive. IDFG said increased snow in higher elevations forces Idaho’s big game herds to migrate to lower elevations, crossing highways and roads.

“While you can’t predict when wildlife will cross the road, being extra alert, slowing down, and avoiding driving under low light conditions if possible is your best defense,” said IDFG wildlife manager Greg Painter.

Not only are collisions with wildlife dangerous, they can be expensive. Hitting a deer or an elk can result in thousands of dollars in vehicle damage, as well as preventable loss of wildlife.

Reduce your chances of an animal collision by following these tips from IDFG (they are also helpful if you’re driving in Washington!):

Slow down: Slowing down increases your reaction time and reduces the chance of a collision

Buckle up: It won’t prevent a collision, but it could save your life

Scan ahead: Watch movement, especially near the fog line and side of the road. Look for shining eyes in headlights

Dawn and dusk: This is when big-game animals are most active. Use extra caution

More to follow: Where there’s one, there’s usually more. If you see an animal cross the road, slow down and expect others to follow

Break, don’t swerve: Brake on the roadway. The most serious crashes occur when drivers lose control of their vehicles trying to avoid an animal. It’s usually safer to strike the animal

Warning signs: Pay extra attention in areas with wildlife crossing signs

Bright lights: Using high beams will help you spot wildlife, just be considerate of other drivers

Don’t tailgate: Keep a safe distance between you and the driver in front of you. If they brake suddenly for an animal, it’ll give you more time to react

If you find yourself in a collision, call 911. Move your vehicle to a safe place and alert oncoming traffic with emergency flashers until law enforcement authorities arrive.

Drivers who come across a dead animal on the side of the road are asked to report the roadkill to IDFG. The agency uses that information to identify high-risk areas and possible solutions to make highways safer.

Learn more about reporting here.

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