Deers killed by cars common in southern New Hampshire

According to Fish and Game Department estimates, about 1,300 deer are killed by cars in New Hampshire every year.

Most of those deer are in the more heavily populated southern part of the state and are killed between now and March.

October through December is the mating season and deer are moving, looking for mates. The males tend to be single-minded, not paying attention to traffic. In a winter with snow banks, the deer are more apt to be in the road where traveling is easier.

In our area, it’s fairly rare to see a deer carcass beside the road. So what happens to them?

“The person who hits the deer has first claim to it,” Conservation Officer Todd Szewczyk said. “If the driver is a New Hampshire resident, he or she can get a permit from the police or Fish and Game that allows them to keep it.”

If the driver doesn’t want the deer, he said, most police departments have a list of people who will come and get it. Few deer go to waste.

If the deer is too badly damaged or has been beside the road too long to be edible, the carcass is generally moved into the woods, out of sight, where it is eaten by coyotes, foxes and bobcats, “as it would be if it died naturally in the woods.”

However, Szewczyk said, “It is illegal to just pick up a deer from the side of the road.”

If a person comes across one that he or she would like to take, contact police or Fish and Game to get permission and the required permit. It is illegal to have an untagged deer.

The driver of the car has no responsibility as far as reporting the accident, he said, “but most people do because of damage to the car and they need the police report of the incident for their insurance companies.”

It is probably better, in many cases, to choose to hit the deer rather than to swerve and hit a tree or another car, but attempting to avoid the deer is a natural reaction, Szewczyk said.

According to statistics, about 1.5 million deer are killed by vehicles nationwide, with an estimated 200 fatalities, and millions of dollars in property damage.

Deer have been called “the most dangerous animal in America” because of those accidents. More people are killed in collision with deer than by other recognized dangers, such as bears and mountain lions.