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Amorous deer the cause of most vehicle-wildlife collisions in Manitoba each fall

Deer in rutting season. John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)
If you’re on Manitoba roads at this time of year, you may need to keep an eye out for some unexpected traffic.

Manitoba motorists are being advised to be on the alert for deer appearing out of nowhere, as the animals’ mating season — known as the rut — is upon us.

According to FortWhyte Alive wildlife interpreter Barrett Miller, the rutting instinct is so powerful that some male deer will even ignore oncoming traffic to get the attention of a potential mate — something that can be dangerous during rush hour, the time of day when deer are most active.

“Those males — as we get into October — will only have one thing on the mind,” said Miller.

“If they get on the trail of a female, they won’t look both ways before crossing traffic, and if that female is not quite in the mood for his attentions yet, she will run to get away from him.”

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“So you’ll have females jumping across the road.”
Miller said the breeding season for white-tailed deer in Manitoba runs roughly from October through mid-December.

Read more: Love-struck deer potential trouble for Manitoba drivers

Brian Smiley of Manitoba Public Insurance said the fall tends to rack up the most vehicle/wildlife collisions in the province.
“October and November are the two worst months in Manitoba for vehicle/wildlife collisions,” he said.
“On average (there are) about 1,100 per month, overall 10,000 per year … and roughly 80 per cent of those collisions involve vehicles and deer.

“It can be very traumatic for the driver and passengers in the vehicle, not to mention for the deer. You need to be on the lookout for deer, particularly if you’re travelling in areas with a lot of bush and grass cover.”

Smiley said drivers who do encounter a deer on the road shouldn’t try to swerve –swerving could cause a collision with oncoming traffic, or cause your vehicle to roll into a ditch.

Instead, drivers should apply their brakes and continue going straight through the animal.

Read more: Drivers beware: It’s deer collision season in Manitoba

If you do experience a collision, he said, quickly activate your four-way lights, assess the damage to your vehicle, and see if it’s driveable.
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Contact 9-1-1, and/or Manitoba conservation or the municipality you’re in, but stay away from the deer if it’s injured on the road.
Smiley said drivers should take photos of the damage and of the animal — assuming it hasn’t already run back into the bush — and avoid washing the vehicle until MPI has had a chance to assess.
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