JEFFERSON CITY – Fall has arrived, and that means more wild animals, especially deer, are on the move as cooler temperatures begin to settle in and nights become longer. The Missouri Department of Transportation reminds motorists to be prepared for the sudden appearance of wild animals on Missouri roadways throughout the fall months.
“Shorter days mean motorists are driving in the dark more often and when deer are more active,” said MoDOT State Maintenance Director Natalie Roark. “This leads to a peak of vehicle collisions involving deer and other wildlife from mid-October through the end of November.”
Missouri has continued to climb the ranks for deer collisions. According to State Farm Insurance, the Show-Me State now ranks 10th in the country for potential animal collisions – up from 14th last year – with a 1 in 80 chance of hitting an animal while driving. MoDOT maintains nearly 34,000 miles of highways, putting Missouri 7th nationally in state highway miles.
In 2022, Missouri drivers experienced 3,699 crashes involving a deer. One deer strike occurred approximately every 2 hours and 20 minutes in the state. In these crashes, there were 5 fatalities and 424 people were injured.
Drivers should never swerve to avoid animals in the road, as it can cause loss of control of their vehicles, resulting in serious injury or death. To avoid hitting a deer, always be cautious and regularly scan both sides of the roadway.
According to Missouri Law, an individual who has struck and killed a deer with their vehicle may claim the deer carcass if written authorization to possess the deer is granted by a Missouri Department of Conservation agent. The Wildlife Disposition Form is free, but the MDC must be contacted to obtain the permit.
If a deer is struck along a state-maintained road and is completely off the roadway, MoDOT will not pick it up unless it impedes mail delivery or is in a neighborhood, especially at or near a bus stop. If a deer is located on the shoulder, MoDOT will address the deer during normal work hours. MoDOT crews are not called out after hours to remove an item unless it is a road safety hazard in a driving lane. MoDOT does not have specialized crews assigned to remove dead animals from the roadway and does not contract out any roadkill removal.
Do not jeopardize your safety to remove an animal in a high traffic area. Notify MoDOT at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (275-6636). Crews will address any deer, animal or debris on a highway that is a safety hazard, meaning that the item is in the driving or passing lane, or partially in either lane or on the shoulder. Crews will drag the carcass to the outer portion of the roadside, outside any active drainage ditch or channel.