Ocean City Today

Drive with caution as deer-mating season continues

By Brian Gilliland | Oct 26, 2017

(Oct. 27, 2017) The chase is on in the farms and fields of the lower shore, as whitetail does test the fitness of local bucks by making them participate in a high-speed version of “follow the leader,” with romance as the prize.

“The breeding season can start as early as the beginning of September,” George Timko, assistant deer project manager for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said. “The peak is the first two weeks of November, with increased activity from Halloween to Thanksgiving.”

Females who do not find a proper mate during the busy season go back into heat 28 days later, leading to another spike in deer activity, Timko said.

There are fewer eligible females later on, but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous on roads and highways.

Deer don’t care about rights of way, travel lanes or traffic when they have love on their minds, and will go pretty much anywhere they please, regardless of the danger to themselves and to tourists, travelers and commuters.

The animals are most active at dusk and dawn.

“Keep yourself safe,” Timko said. “Be aware they can be anywhere. Drivers often ignore the “deer area” signs,” but they’re put in place for a reason, he said.

The first thing to do if a deer is spotted is to slow down, Timko said. Flashing high beams or sounding the horn could scare off a wandering whitetail, but where there’s one deer, there could be more, Timko warned.

In the rare cases, human fatalities have resulted from a crash involving an automobile and an animal. The more severe injuries generally come from the animal ricocheting off one car and onto another. More often, injuries occur for drivers when they swerve to avoid striking an animal and end up hitting a tree, another vehicle or running off the road instead.

“Really pay attention,” Timko said.

Deer whistles and other such devices have limited value, according to studies done in Georgia and Wisconsin.

Overall, the deer population in Maryland is declining through hunting, sharpshooting and limited fertility control, Timko said.

“It’s not often used, and only when the community agrees to pay for it. Plus, it takes a long time to be effective. It may stop future generations but you still have the same number of deer you had before,” he said. “Hunting is our most effective tool.”

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