According to a government advisory committee, traffic accidents involving deer have skyrocketed in the past decade, with as many as 14,000 crashes a year.
According to the Deer Working Group, nearly 1,800 traffic accidents involving deer were officially registered in 2018 – while tens of thousands more remain unreported.
When deer frequently migrate to lower-lying areas to graze and vehicles face wet and icy driving conditions in low light, winter is an especially hazardous time.
And official statistics tracking the number of crashes in 2018 indicate that deer were involved in 1,756 road accidents – an increase of more than a third in the past decade.
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However, when a study on how Scotland can handle deer populations was created by the Scottish Government’s Deer Working Group earlier this year, the group concluded that the overall number of road accidents involving deer is more than 8,000 to 14,000 each year.
Forestry & Land Scotland, which was asked to provide the working group with information, stated that its foresters are frequently called upon to hurt deer near the forests it manages in Scotland.
FLS – equal to nine percent of Scotland’s land area – is responsible for 650,000 hectares across Scotland and deer control is an important part of its operations.
“Ian Fergusson, head of wildlife management at FLS, said, “The population of deer in Scotland is growing, and we have seen numbers of deer road accidents increase steadily over the last decade or so.
In terms of land management, deer present many challenges; the more deer there are, the greater the possible harm they can cause.
The more deer there are, the greater the possible harm they can do. When the numbers of deer are high or food is low, they have to disperse far to find enough food, and it sometimes takes them to urban areas; and the effects can be devastating in terms of busy roads.
The number of deer in Scotland is estimated to have risen from about 511,000 in 1990 to about 1 million in 2020.
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Forestry and Land Scotland uses a variety of strategies, including deer culling and fencing, to protect Scotland’s forests and lands from the harmful impacts of deer, to reduce numbers to manageable levels, keep herds safe, and minimize habitat loss.
In the Highland, Aberdeenshire, Central Belt and Fife regions, most reported road traffic incidents involving red deer occur, but over the past decade there have also been substantial rises in areas of western central Scotland, including North and South Lanarkshire.
“Country lanes and rural roads present many unexpected dangers and the presence of deer on our roads, especially at this time of year, should always be considered by road users,” Area Traffic Police Commander, Chief Inspector Neil Lumsden, said.
“What’s going to happen on the road ahead is impossible to predict, and you should always ask yourself, “Do I know what’s around the next bend?” and “Will I stop in the distance I can see to be safe if I have to?
“These are all questions that you have to ask yourself all the time while using rural and county roads. I would always remind people to drive, understand and respond to warning signs according to the circumstances, for a reason. Ensure that you understand what they say, slow down, drive properly and expect the unexpected.
As deer appear to be more aggressive at dusk and dawn, periods when there are more cars on the roads, winter is considered to be one of the most dangerous times for deer-vehicle accidents on the roads.
In Scotland, the actual number of collisions with human injuries is estimated to reach 120 each year.
In October, because of new coronavirus restrictions, motorists across the UK were warned to expect a second rise in collisions with deer.
The combination of quieter highways, a dusk rush hour and seasonal migration has led to a “new danger.” the British Deer Society and the AA said.
It is thought that empty roads lull animals into a false sense of protection, and government statistics show that car ov ov