Collisions involving deer expected to rise during mating season

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - A warning for drivers: there are signs of a looming spike in crashes involving deer in the St. Louis-area.

There have been more deer sightings along the roadways and more shattered windshields.

A recent study shows it's likely that one in every 120 Missouri drivers will hit a deer this year. Missouri has moved up from 18th to 17th in the nation in that category.

Peak season in St. Louis is here.

There have been repeated “close calls” in deer-van collisions in St. Louis County this week.

The driver of a Mercedes SUV hit a deer just after 5 p.m. Friday night on Highway 141, just north of Manchester. The driver was not seriously hurt.

There was a very close call for a driver in Town & Country Wednesday. There’s still deer fur stuck in the shattered windshield. The deer ran off. Luckily, the driver did not suffer serious injury.

It happened around 11 a.m. on Clayton Road near Weidman.

There were no other vehicles involved, a sign the driver did the right thing, in spite of all the damage to the van.

“It’s hard to fight that feeling (to swerve). You want to avoid hitting the deer,” said Battalion Chief Kelly Grassmuck of the West County EMS & Fire Protection District. “You want to avoid the accident. The problem is, if you’re on a two-lane road and you swerve you could be running head-on into traffic.”

You’re more likely to encounter a deer on the road, right now. It’s mating season. They are on the move.

A Missouri Department of Conservation map highlights counties in red where there are too many deer for the human population. St. Louis County is the only county in red.

The company that towed the van from Clayton Road has handled three or four additional deer-vehicle accidents in the past week. No one is immune from the risk.

“I know my partner and I 4-5 years ago, we were running a call, going down Clayton Road about 3 o’clock in the morning. Sometimes it’s just inevitable they jump out in front of you, there’s nothing you can do about it,” Grassmuck said. “It’s scary, I mean this is the size of our ambulances right there. It’s scary even when you hit them in something like that.”

They hit the deer. Neither was hurt.

Authorities really want drivers to keep a couple of things in mind: you're more likely to cause serious injury to yourself or another driver if you swerve to miss a deer. Also, even if you see one deer and miss it, two or more are likely to follow. Your best bet is slow down and give yourself more time to react. As always, stay off your cell phone while driving.