Be careful when driving through Madison County: Bambi might be crossing the road.
Recent statistics released by the Illinois Department of Transportation showed that Madison County tied for first place in the number of car crashes involving deer last year. There were 428 deer-involved crashes in Madison County, the same number as Cook County.
Overall, there were 15,356 deer-involved crashes in Illinois last year, 22 more than the previous year. Of those, the vast majority resulted in property damage only. However, 570 crashes resulted in injury, with four deaths.
428 deer-involved crashes in Madison County
203 deer-involved crashes in St. Clair County
Other counties with a high number of deer-related counties include Will County with 401, Sangamon County with 394 and Fulton County with 350. St. Clair County didn’t even make the top 10 counties, with 203 crashes.
Most deer-related crashes happen in the late fall, and about 80 percent happen on rural roads at twilight or nighttime, according to IDOT.
IDOT advises drivers to reduce speed near fields and wooded areas. Deer often will double back across roads, so make sure deer have moved away from the road, and be aware that one deer often means there are others nearby. Don’t swerve into traffic or off the road to avoid a deer, but try to slow to a stop instead.
If you are involved in a deer-related crash, you are advised to pull over to a safe location and turn on flashers. If no one is injured and the car can be safely driven away, you usually can phone in the information. If anyone is injured or the vehicle has to be towed, a police officer must respond to the scene for the crash report.
When do you get to keep the animal? A deer that is killed by a car crash can be claimed by the driver, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. However, only law enforcement officers are permitted to kill a deer that has been injured by a crash. If the driver declines to claim the deer, any Illinois resident may claim it, unless he or she is delinquent in child support.