HAZELWOOD, Mo – Mating season for deer means the mammals will be erratic, moving around more, and they could find themselves on highways. 

Three people were killed in an animal-related collision on Saturday. The Missouri State Highway Patrol said the driver swerved out of the way of an animal and ended up hitting a tree. The driver, 20-year-old Audrey Smith of Bridgeton, 20-year-old Andrew Marzuco of Ste. Genevieve, and 19-year-old Mallory Carter of Brighton, Illinois, were pronounced dead at the scene. 

“It’s gotten cold, so we are seeing more animal strikes,” said Jason Stumpf, manager at Complete Auto Body Care and Repair. 

Stumpf said about one in every five customers is at his shop because they hit an animal. Stumpf also worked as a police officer for 20 years and helped on collision reconstruction sites related to animal collisions. 

Dan Zarlenga with the Missouri Department of Conservation said when deer are in mating season, their behavior is more erratic. He suggests hitting the animal head-on as opposed to trying to swerve out of the way. 

“If you’re in that situation, the best thing is to go ahead and hit the deer,” Zarlenga said. “It’s unfortunate, but it’s the lesser of two evils.”  

There were more than 3,500 deer-related collisions in Missouri last year, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol

State Farm also lists Missouri as a high-risk state, stating drivers have a nearly 15 percent chance of hitting an animal while driving. 

If you do hit a deer, you are asked to call MoDOT at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (275-6636).