RSPCA urge caution over spate of collisions with deer

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A deer which was hit by a car and became trapped in the grill is among a number of recent incidents that have been highlighted by RSPCA officers.

The RSPCA is warning motorists to watch out for deer on the roads after a flood of calls about tragic accidents.

Deer-related road accidents are at a peak at this time of year, when darker dusk clashes with rush hour on the roads due to the clocks going back and the rutting season causes greater movement of deer.

The RSPCA has received 198 calls about road accidents involving deer since the beginning of October – many of them fatal. Just in the past two weeks since the clocks went back there have been 70 calls.

Just some of the recent examples includes a roe deer found collapsed on the A59 in Clayton Le Dale near Blackburn on Sunday evening (10 November) with blood coming from his eyes, another with half his leg missing on the B4035 near Shipston-on-Stour in Warwickshire on Saturday (9 November), and another poor young muntjac discovered with his whole body trapped inside the front grille of a car in Finedon on the October 30.

All these incidents were sadly fatal. The muntjac trapped in the grille was choking and gasping for the breath when the driver stopped and both legs were broken.

Inspector Clint Davies said: “The poor animal didn’t stand a chance. The driver heard the impact and stopped as soon as she could and called us but both his legs were broken and there was no way this poor animal could have survived.

“These sorts of accidents happen a lot at this time of year. I’ve had three similar cases already this week. Some of them are really disturbing. We have had deer with limbs dangling, lots with nasty wounds and others with blood gushing from their ears and mouth.”

Dr Ros Clubb, senior wildlife scientist for the RSPCA, said: “Every year around this time, we hear similar stories of deer and people injured or even killed in road accidents so we urge drivers to slow down, take extra care and watch out for these animals for their own sake as well as theirs.

“As days get shorter, busy traffic times coincide with dawn and the early part of the night when deer are most active and hardest to spot. In wooded areas in particular, there may be very little warning before one or several deer bolt across.”

Typically, the RSPCA receives over 50% more calls about deer in door traffic accidents in October than the previous month.

The periods of highest risk are autumn and spring, particularly around dawn and dusk.

The Deer Initiative estimates that there could be up to 74,000 deer-vehicle collisions every year in the UK – around 80% of which are in England.

A key to reducing the number and severity of these incidents is to get drivers to be ‘Deer Aware’ – to slow down and watch out when they see deer warning signs at the roadside.

The RSPCA is encouraging the public to report any injured deer on our 24-hour cruelty and advice line, on 0300 1234 999.”

RSPCA advice to drivers is:

O When you see deer warning signs, check your speed and stay alert.

O If your headlights are on, use full-beams when you can; but dip them if you see deer as they may ‘freeze’.

O More deer may well follow the first one you see.

O Be prepared to stop. Try not to suddenly swerve to avoid a deer. A collision with oncoming traffic or another obstacle could be even worse.

O If you have to stop, use your hazard warning lights.

O Do not approach an injured deer – it could be dangerous.

O If you collide with a deer (or witness a collision) and someone may be injured, or if vehicles or deer in the road are a risk to road safety, then you should treat this as an emergency and ring 999 for the Police or Ambulance service immediately. You can use an Emergency Roadside Telephone if one is available.