With the days getting shorter, New Jersey drivers are cautioned to be on the lookout for white-tailed deer as they enter their annual rut.

White-Tailed Deer
Flickr User vladeb

Deer migrate and mate during the fall months, starting in October and ending in early December in the state. This can cause deer to jump in front of moving vehicles, especially during the hours of dawn and dusk.

"You will have bucks chasing does onto the roadway or does running away from bucks" said Carole Stanko, a wildlife biologist at the state Department of Environmental Protection.

She says there are over 110,000 deer in New Jersey.

"We do have deer hunting season in New Jersey five months out of the year, but what makes it particularly hard is the access for hunters. The state is made up primartily private properties where many hunters are not allowed."

Nevertheless, she says the hunt does manage the deer population.

"We do have liberal hunting regulations here and in two-thirds of the state we have a limitless antlerless harvest, which means a hunter can go out and bag a hundred deer if he wants to and that is perfectly legal" said Stanko.

Stanko says deer behavior is unpredictable during the breeding season, so commuters need to be extra vigilant.

"The next few months drivers really just need to slow down and be extra cautious, particularly near wooded areas where you might find a lot more of the animals."

The DEP offers the following safety tips:

*If you spot a deer, slow down and pay attention to sudden movements. If the deer doesn't move, do not go around it. Wait until the deer passes and the road is clear.

*Pay attention to "deer crossing" signs.

*Use your car's high beams when there is no oncoming traffic. High beams are reflected in the deer's eyes.

*If you see one deer, watch for others.

*Do not tailgate. The driver in front of you may have to stop suddenly to avoid a deer.   Wear your seat belt.

*If a collision with a deer is inevitable, do not swerve to avoid impact. The deer may counter-maneuver suddenly. Brake firmly, but stay in your lane. Collisions are more likely to be fatal if a driver swerves to avoid a deer and instead collides with oncoming traffic or a fixed structure.

*Immediately report any deer-vehicle collision to a law enforcement agency.




More From New Jersey 101.5 FM