Road kill season is upon us - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Road kill season is upon us

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JONES COUNTY (KWWL) -

Harvest time and the start of breeding season for deer mean a spike in road kill-related car accidents.

Iowa's roads are traveled more and more every year. Statistics from the Iowa Department of Transportation show vehicles racked up nearly 31.6 billion miles in the state in 2010.

Despite that, the number of deer road kills have gone down in recent years.

Iowa DNR spokesperson Joe Wilkinson said in 15,361 deer died in Iowa road kill-related accidents in 2004. In 2006, that number was down to 14,940, and in 2010: 10,153.

He said that's a direct result of the DNR increasing the number of antlerless deer hunting tags available in deer-heavy counties.

"A deer hunter would like to see more deer. Someone who is losing a lot of their gardening would like to see fewer deer," Wilkinson said. "Someone who has had a couple of accidents is going to want to see fewer deer, so there is that push and shove, we're never going to hit what is an ideal number for everyone."

Despite the decline in population, however, deer are still venturing out onto roadways more now than at any other time of the year.

"Starting about now, all the crops are coming out of the field, so deer and other wildlife are going to be more visible to people driving by," Wilkinson said.

Besides cut fields and mating season, deer-vehicle collisions spike this time of year because the animals travel mostly at dawn and dusk.

"More drivers are going to be commuting to and from work at dawn and at dusk, due to the daylight change," Wilkinson said.

Deer, of course, aren't the only animals crossing roads.

"The crops are out of the field, the hiding places are gone, maybe their food sources are starting to disappear as the corn and the beans come in, so they're traveling more," Wilkinson said.

Many animals like following creeks or staying close to cover, such as tall trees, so deer crossing signs are placed with purpose.

Wilkinson said peak deer breeding season is the first two weeks of November, when the animals will be out in full force.

State Farm Insurance released its annual deer-vehicle collision statistics just three days ago. The data show Iowa has the second-highest deer-vehicle collision rate in the country.

The release also shows the number of deer hit by motorists has decreased nationwide.

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