By Eric Long
Each year in Missouri, thousands of accidents involving vehicles and wildlife are reported to law enforcement agencies across the state. While most of these accidents aren’t preventable, there are a few precautions that can be followed to prevent accidents.
Also, when an accident does occur, there are some procedures that must be followed to properly report and handle the unfortunate incident.
The fall and winter months are certainly the most likely times when a vehicle versus wildlife accident can occur. It is during these times when animals are most active, especially during the hours of darkness. Caution should be used when driving at night, since this is when deer and other creatures are most active. Slow down in areas known for high populations of deer.
If a deer or other creature does enter the roadway, try not to slam on your brakes, as you may cause an accident behind you. Try slowing down or steering to avoid the animal.
Also, dim your headlights so the animal is not blinded and disoriented, and may be able to better see to get off the roadway. Remember, animals like deer, may form large herds during the cold winter months, so if you see one animal on the road remember that there may be several more behind it.
In the unfortunate event that you do have a collision with a deer or other large animal, pull off the roadway when it is safe to do so. After making sure that everyone in the vehicle is not injured, call the local police department or Sheriff’s department.
If your vehicle is damaged you may need to get a police report filled out for insurance purposes. A law enforcement officer will also assist you if your vehicle needs to be towed.
If you or another person involved wants to claim the road-killed deer you will need to fill out a Missouri Department of Conservation deer death report, or disposition form.
This form allows a person to claim a deer that was killed by an automobile and have it processed for consumption. Most police agencies have these forms, if they don’t they will contact a Conservation Agent or other Department of Conservation employee to issue one. Remember, all road killed deer or parts there of must be accompanied by a disposition form.
This form also applies to other wildlife. Protected species that are killed by vehicles may not be possessed. Some people would like to get road-killed birds of prey, like hawks or owls, or other protected species mounted for display in their homes. This act is illegal and parts of these birds, such as feathers or talons, may not be possessed at all.
Remember, there are some preventative driving techniques that can be used to avoid accidents between vehicles and wildlife. However, some of these accidents are unavoidable, and if they do occur a law enforcement agency should be contacted to properly report the accident. If you would like to claim a deer that was killed by a vehicle, a law enforcement officer or Missouri Department of Conservation employee must be contacted to complete a deer death report, which allows a person to possess that animal.
This is the responsibility of anyone wishing to possess a road-killed deer. To report an accident involving wildlife, contact the nearest law enforcement agency or Reynolds County Conservation Agents Eric Long at 573-579- 5057 or Kaleb Neece at 573- 561-6313.