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Automobile Accidents Involving Wildlife

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.

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