BOUNTIFUL, Utah- (ABC 4 Utah) – Drivers need to stay aware, as mule deer migration continues and urban herds prepare for winter conditions. Utah averages about 5,000 vehicle versus wildlife crashes statewide every year, and right now, mule deer are migrating out of the mountains to valley locations to hunker down for winter.
“We’ve been here for 35 years, and it’s super highway for the deer coming right up through our yard all year long,” Rick Stevenson, a Bountiful resident, said.
Catching a glimpse of deer is almost routine along the Wasatch Front, but as the days get shorter, the deer stay more active.
“Practically every day, there’s cars we see stop quick because of deer, three or four deer crossing the road,” Rick Stevenson, a Bountiful resident, said.
It seems like deer get more daring, hopping fences and crossing roads but this is actually the time of year where migration peaks.
“We will see deer start moving as early as September, all through October and into November,” Daniel Olson of the Division of Wildlife Resources said.
As population continues to grow, interaction with wildlife increases. The division of wildlife resources keeps and eye on migration patterns because deer are extremely faithful to their pattern, they follow the same ones their entire lives. It’s also passed down to fawns. Knowing that is beneficial for state road planners.
“That data allows us to very specifically place wildlife crossings that allow animals to make those traditional migratory movements,” Daniel Olson of the Division of Wildlife Resources said.
The Utah Department of Transportation tracks vehicle versus wildlife crashes through wildlife remains. Roadkill removal gives UDOT an idea of hot spots for accidents. The numbers tallied are under the actual numbers because animal carcass collection doesn’t take into consideration animals hit that walk away but later die, or carcasses carried away by predators. Some noteworthy corridors with a decent amount of deer danger and collected carcasses this year include Sandy to Lehi (350), Park City to Kamas(250), Gunnison to Thistle(300) and Morgan to Kimball Junction (250). UDOT advises drivers need to fight their instincts, and not swerve if a deer is in the road.
“You can swerve into oncoming traffic, you can cause yourself to roll over-and that’s where you really see those significant injuries, we’ve even seen fatalities as a result,” John Gleason, a spokesman for UDOT, told ABC 4 News.