Looking at a two-year breakdown of motor vehicle vs. deer accidents in Harvey County, one thing is clear. Thre are more of those accidents in November than any other month.
According to the Harvey County Sheriff's Office, there were 106 deer hit between Oct. 2015 through Oct. 2017 — with 40 of those accidents happening in November. Nov. 2015 saw 23 accidents, while Nov. 2016 showed 17.
And November 2017 is just around the corner.
"October and November is when they start 'rut,'" said Mark Hardtarfer of the Havey County Sheriff's department.
The rut is the mating season of animals such as deer, sheep, camels, goats, pronghorns, bison and antelopes. During that time they tend to be more active and traveling more.
“Animal-vehicle collisions start to increase in October and peak in mid-November,” said Shawn Steward, spokesman for AAA Kansas. “As the deer population grows and our cities spread into formerly rural areas, motorists need to be even more cautious and alert behind the wheel, especially at dawn and dusk, times of the highest deer activity.”
According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, about 18.5 percent of the vehicular accidents in Harvey County are the result of deer hits, and deer hits are on the rise.
Statewide there was a dip in deer crashes between 2011 and 2012 but the numbers have grown every year since. In 2012, there were 9,740 deer accidents statewide. That number grew to 10,150 in 2016 — seven of those were fatal to people in the vehicle while 593 people were injured.
“Deer and other animals are unpredictable and you never know when they might dash out in front of your vehicle. But there are actions you can take to help prevent an accident or reduce the damage from an animal collision,” noted Steward. “First and foremost, always protect yourself by wearing a seat belt and removing all distractions behind the wheel.”
Hardtarfer said drivers need to be aware of their surroundings at all times — even more so when the deer begin to run.
"With deer, there is not a whole lot you can do," Hardtarfer said. "Slow down at the dusk and dawn hours, and pay attention. Stay off the cell phone. That is probably the biggest thing these days, just stay off the phone."