Fall back, slow down and look out for rut­ting deer

The Southern Berks News - - SPORTS - By Tom Ta­tum For Digital First Me­dia

You might call it, quite lit­er­ally, a case of bad tim­ing be­cause, when you mix East­ern Stan­dard Time with the white­tail rut, you get a po­ten­tially deadly com­bi­na­tion. The rea­son? The end of Day­light Sav­ing Time puts more ve­hi­cles on the road dur­ing the hours when deer are most ac­tive. It’s a recipe for dis­as­ter. Con­se­quently, now that our clocks have “fallen back” an hour, the folks at the Penn­syl­va­nia Game Com­mis­sion are urg­ing mo­torists to slow down and stay alert.

Ac­cord­ing to most es­ti­ma­tions, the rut, aka the white­tail deer’s fall breed­ing sea­son, is set to peak over the next two weeks. Dur­ing this time, many year­ling bucks dis­perse from the ar­eas in which they were born and travel, some­times sev­eral dozen miles, to find new ranges. Mean­while, adult bucks more of­ten are cruis­ing their home ranges in search of does, and they some­times chase the does they en­counter.

Add to this the fact au­tumn sees a num­ber of peo­ple tak­ing part in out­door ac­tiv­i­ties that might flush deer from forested ar­eas or briar thick­ets, and that deer are more ac­tively feed­ing to store en­ergy for win­ter months, and it quickly be­comes ev­i­dent why mo­torists might be more likely to en­counter deer on roads. If you travel the high­ways and by­ways of our re­gion, you’ve no doubt al­ready no­ticed a spike in the num­ber of road­kills. With the ad­vent of East­ern Stan­dard Time, those num­bers are bound to in­crease.

When Day­light Sav­ing Time ended Sun­day morn­ing at 2:00 a.m., it sig­naled a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in ve­hic­u­lar traf­fic be­tween dusk and dawn — the peak hours for deer ac­tiv­ity. “While the peak of the rut still is a few weeks off, deer al­ready have in­creased their ac­tiv­ity and are cross­ing roads,” said Game Com­mis­sion Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Bryan Burhans. “While mo­torists — at any time of year — are well ad­vised to stay alert and be on the look­out for white­tails while driv­ing, it’s es­pe­cially im­por­tant now and in the com­ing weeks.”

Each year in­sur­ance provider State Farm com­piles a re­port on the like­li­hood driv­ers in each state will col­lide with a deer or other large an­i­mal, and Penn­syl­va­nia reg­u­larly is near the top of list. This year is no ex­cep­tion. In the 2017 re­port, re­leased ear­lier this month, Penn­syl­va­nia re­mained third among states. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, Penn­syl­va­nia driv­ers have a 1-in-63 chance of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a col­li­sion with a deer or other large an­i­mal, up a 6.3 per­cent from 2016.

Driv­ers can re­duce their chances of col­li­sions with deer by stay­ing alert and bet­ter un­der­stand­ing deer be­hav­ior. Just pay­ing at­ten­tion while driv­ing on stretches marked with “Deer Cross­ing” signs can make a dif­fer­ence. Deer of­ten travel in fam­ily groups and walk sin­gle file. So even if one deer suc­cess­fully crosses the road in front of a driver, it doesn’t mean the threat is over. An­other could be right be­hind it.

A driver who hits a deer with ve­hi­cle is not re­quired to re­port the ac­ci­dent to the Game Com­mis­sion. If the deer dies, only Penn­syl­va­nia res­i­dents may claim the car­cass. To do so, they must call the Game Com­mis­sion re­gion of­fice rep­re­sent­ing the county where the ac­ci­dent oc­curred and an agency dis­patcher will col­lect the in­for­ma­tion needed to pro­vide a free per­mit num­ber, which the caller should write down.

A res­i­dent must call within 24 hours of tak­ing pos­ses­sion of the deer. A pass­ing Penn­syl­va­nia mo­torist also may claim the deer, if the per­son whose ve­hi­cle hit it doesn’t want it.

Those tak­ing pos­ses­sion road-killed deer also are ad­vised of rules re­lated to chronic wast­ing dis­ease (CWD) that pro­hibit the re­moval of high-risk deer parts — es­sen­tially the head and back­bone — from any es­tab­lished Dis­ease Man­age­ment Area (DMA). Those parts must be re­moved be­fore the deer is trans­ported out­side a DMA. For DMA maps, the com­plete list of high-risk parts and other in­for­ma­tion on CWD, visit the Game Com­mis­sion’s web­site at www. pgc.pa.gov.

Antlers from bucks killed in ve­hi­cle col­li­sions ei­ther must be turned over to the Game Com­mis­sion, or may be pur­chased for $10 per point by the per­son who claims the deer. Also, re­mov­ing antlers from road­killed bucks is il­le­gal.

If a deer is struck by a ve­hi­cle, but not killed, driv­ers are urged to main­tain their dis­tance be­cause some deer might re­cover and move on. How­ever, if a deer does not move on, or poses a pub­lic safety risk, driv­ers are en­cour­aged to re­port the in­ci­dent to a Game Com­mis­sion re­gional of­fice or other lo­cal law-en­force­ment agency. If the deer must be put down, the Game Com­mis­sion will di­rect the proper per­son to do so.

To re­port a dead deer for re­moval from state roads, mo­torists can call the Penn­syl­va­nia Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion at 1-800-FIX-ROAD.

***

Al­though most Penn­syl­va­nia out­doorsy types are now fo­cused on our on­go­ing hunt­ing sea­sons, fish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties also abound in the fall. The Penn­syl­va­nia Fish and Boat Com­mis­sion’s fall trout stock­ing pro­gram is now un­der­way. Some up­com­ing stock­ing ef­forts here in the south­east in­clude Deep Creek Dam in Montgomery County and An­ti­etam Reser­voir in Berks, both slated for next week. An­glers can see a com­plete list of the fall stock­ing sched­ules by vis­it­ing the Penn­syl­va­nia Fish and Boat Com­mis­sion’s (PFBC) stock­ing pages. Scroll down and look for links to “Fall Stock­ings Statewide” and “Win­ter Stock­ings Statewide.”

The fall and win­ter months are con­sid­ered an ex­tended sea­son for trout and have lower daily lim­its. Con­tin­u­ing through Fe­bru­ary 28, an­glers can keep three trout each day. Class A wild trout streams are strictly catch and im­me­di­ate re­lease, with no har­vest­ing al­lowed.

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