FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Feb. 16, 2012) -- An increase in deer versus car incidents on post has led Fort Rucker officials to seek to raise drivers' awareness of the threat.

While it is difficult to pinpoint a direct cause, there are a number of factors that could account for the spike in deer strikes, according to John Clancy, outdoor recreation program manager.

Within recent years, Fort Rucker has implemented a Quality Deer Management program that, in accordance with state regulations, places restrictions and limitations on deer harvesting, he said.

"Within the last three years, we have slowly seen [the deer population] coming back," said Clancy. "The herd is making a good comeback even though we've harvested about the same as past seasons."

Breeding, or rutting, season can also contribute to heightened activity within the population, he added. Rutting season can last through early March.

"We have a late rut here, and a buck in rut will chase any doe that has not been bred. Any doe in estrus is going to be pushed," said Clancy.

Those deer could be chased straight into the path of oncoming traffic, so drivers should remain alert through the month of March, he added.

Understanding the actions to take should a deer or any other animal run into traffic are key to keeping drivers safe, said Lt. Col. Madeline Bondy, Director of Public Safety, adding that the consequences of hitting the deer are usually far less than the results of bad driving.

"If you see a deer, be cognizant of the traffic around you. If a deer comes out in front of you, do not attempt to swerve and miss it. If you swerve, you could go into oncoming traffic or lose control of your vehicle. If you slam on your brakes, you might get rear-ended," said Bondy.

"Keep your eyes focused and be attentive at all times. That means staying off the cell phone and not texting," she said, adding that those two actions are illegal while driving on post. "This is rutting season for deer so they're moving a lot more, especially at dawn and dusk. We all want to be good stewards of our environment, but we must take into consideration the welfare of those in our vehicle as well as those on the road around us."

If a motorist hits a deer on the installation, they should contact the Fort Rucker police.

"It's always good to get checked out when you have an accident. Sometimes possible injuries don't come on until later. Calling the police also ensures the animal is properly removed if, in fact, it is killed or injured," said Bondy.

Motorists should remain aware of their environment even when driving away from wooded areas.

"Deer are not just in the surrounding areas like wood lines or the training areas," said Bondy. "We have had an incident where a large buck struck a vehicle while it was parked. They have been in the housing areas and on cantonment, so pay attention to speed limits, and the rules and regulations of the road. Be attentive and if you strike a deer or other animal, contact the police."

Page last updated Thu February 16th, 2012 at 12:05