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Ask a Trooper: Know what to do if you hit a deer

Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Trooper

Question: Driving yesterday, I noticed at least 10 freshly dead deer on the side of the highway. What are the traffic related requirements when someone collides with a deer, and what are the game-related requirements with killing a deer? Is it legal to take the deer home?

Answer: This time of year, we see an increase in vehicle versus deer crashes. If you are involved in a vehicle versus deer or large animal crash, call 911 to report if there are any occupant injuries, your vehicle is disabled, your vehicle or the animal is in the lane of traffic or if the animal has been injured enough that it is unable to run away. Law enforcement will be dispatched to your location to assist.

The Minnesota State Patrol does issue permits for road-kill deer generally right at the time of the crash or soon after. Any Minnesota resident may claim a road-killed animal by contacting a law enforcement officer. An authorization permit can be issued, allowing the individual to lawfully possess the animal.

Here are some tips to avoid deer crashes:

• Drive at safe speeds and always be buckled up.

• Be especially cautious from 6 to 9 p.m., when deer are most active.

• Use high beams as much as possible at night, especially in deer-active areas.

• Motorists: don't swerve to avoid a deer. Swerving can cause motorists to lose control and travel off the road or into oncoming traffic.

• Watch for the reflection of deer eyes and for deer silhouettes on the shoulder of the road. If anything looks slightly suspicious, slow down.

• Slowdown in areas known to have a large deer population — such as areas where roads divide agricultural fields from forest land; and whenever in forested areas between dusk and dawn.

• Deer do unpredictable things — they stop in the middle of the road when crossing; cross and quickly re-cross back; and move toward an approaching vehicle. Blow horn to urge deer to leave the road.

• If a deer is struck but not killed by a vehicle, keep a distance as deer may recover and move on. If a deer does not move on, or poses a public safety risk, report the incident to a DNR conservation officer or other local law enforcement agency.

• Avoid all distractions while driving.

A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol, 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth, MN 55811. You can follow me on Twitter @MSPPIO_NE or reach me at neil.dickenson@state.mn.us.

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