Tuesday, October 18, 2022

DEC: Deer & moose more active during breeding season, keep watchful eye on roadways

Deer and moose are on the move. During the months of October, November, and December—breeding season for deer and moose—they become more active and are more likely to enter public roadways. Two-thirds of crashes between deer and vehicles occur during this three-month span. Motorists should also be alert for moose on roadways in the Adirondacks and surrounding areas this time of year.

Motorists should be aware that animals are especially active at dawn and dusk when visibility may be reduced and commuter traffic may be heavy.

The DEC recommends the following precautions motorists can take to reduce the chance of hitting a deer or moose:

  • Decrease speed when you approach deer near roadsides. Deer can “bolt” or change direction at the last minute.
  • If you see a deer go across the road, decrease speed and be careful. Deer often travel in groups so expect other deer to follow.
  • Use emergency lights or a headlight signal to warn other drivers when deer are seen on or near the road.
  • Use caution on roadways marked with deer crossing signs.
  • Use extreme caution when driving at dawn or dusk, when animal movement is at its highest and visibility is reduced.

Photo at top by Lacy Rivers. Photo courtesy of the DEC.

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Information attributed to NYSDEC is taken from press releases and news announcements from New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation.

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9 Responses

  1. Boreas says:

    I would like to stir up controversy here. Do those deer whistles that you add to the front of your car work? I have used them on all of my vehicles for as long as they have been available and have yet to have a collision (knock on wood). I have always lived in areas of high deer concentrations.

    • Paul says:

      What is controversial about this question? My father travelled all over NYS in a public service position for 40 plus years. He swore by them and he never once hit a deer even with all those miles! So just anecdotal – but maybe!

      • Boreas says:


        Science hasn’t been able to determine that they actually work, but I doubt there is a big budget for deer whistle research. I do feel the deer hear them and sometimes react, but they could just be hearing my snow tires and just getting bored with standing in the road.

        That being said, perhaps the research budget should be increased, as animal collisions raise all of our insurance rates, are potentially dangerous, and are a terrible way to treat wildlife.

  2. Just drove from Saranac Lake to Tupper Lake on Friday night. My question is aren’t the road sides mowed ? Every other state highway gets mowed .

    • Boreas says:

      Typically, yes. But a couple of issues have come up this year. First, gasoline (road) taxes were rolled back, and I would assume reducing mowing efforts would be an easy, temporary cost savings plan. Second, pollinator species are in decline and changing mowing patterns and times are being employed in some areas to help with pollinator species. But we also need to address areas where deer are over-abundant and determine a plan to bring their numbers to healthier levels.

  3. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Shawn Typhair says: “My question is aren’t the road sides mowed? Every other state highway gets mowed.”

    Your query reads as if there is a desire in you to have them mowed if they are not! Maybe I’m reading you wrong, but perchance I am not, I will say some of us prefer them not to be mowed as some of us like flowers and the bees and butterflies, and other, which go to them….as Boreas hinted. What’s left of the bees and butterflies anyway as I see so much less of them than in year’s past. New York State does like to mow the sides of roads I have noticed glaringly in my drives, but with Vermont (generally speaking) it is different…..they like their roadsides coming up to the fields and flowers which is the less cosmetic look, and so much more purtier. Those Vermonters are far less cosmetic than New Yorker’s I’m here to say, which in the long run is going to benefit them in more ways than two.

    • Boreas says:


      Agreed. Much depends on the roadway type and what is planted or currently living there. We certainly wouldn’t want 6-8 foot grass, wildflowers, sumacs, etc. up to the concrete on an interstate. But if the proper plants are sown along roadsides that don’t grow high enough to obscure larger animals and birds, there really is no reason they need to be mowed twice every year. One mowing in late fall or early spring should be enough to keep tree saplings and other woody plants at bay if they start to stray onto the curb or median.

      Some of the grasses sown by transportation crews around the country are fast growing, attractive to deer, and can grow quite high. Yes, they can stabilize soil quickly, but if they reseed heavily to the point they keep out native plants – and need to be mowed biannually, are we doing ourselves or wildlife any favors? Perhaps sow disturbed soils along roadways with a mixture of deer-resistant, low-growing wild plants – and short-term grasses that are sterile and will die out in a year or two and not re-seed, allowing the native species to take over and stabilize the soil.

      I don’t know the actual position DEC takes, but it seems they want safety first and wildlife second. I suppose that isn’t a bad ideal, but perhaps there are better compromises than what we currently are using that could prove less-expensive in the long run.

  4. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “Decrease speed when you approach deer near roadsides. Deer can “bolt” or change direction at the last minute.”

    But of course! Most animals on the road we see dead and a bloody mess are due to increased speed not reduced speed. Common sense….a thing which seems to elude many of us. One item I don’t see mentioned above is reduced light, as in keeping your bright lights off when approaching animals in the road. This (bright lights) freezes the animal such as we have come to know in the old Adirondack stories, and images, regards ‘hunting by light’ where an 1800’s hunter stands in the front of a bark, in the darkness of night, with his rifle aimed at a deer lit up on a wilderness shoreline. The animals froze once those lights were set upon them! To their detriment of course. They call that jack-lighting. It ain’t no different than the bright lights of an automobile racing down a highway, or byway, at night……it makes for an easier kill! Common sense!

    When I see an animal in, or near, a road at night, I slow to a stop, then turn my headlights off while leaving my parking lights on, then whatever else it takes to move them along and out of harm’s way, a tap on my horn, a shout out the window, etc.. These work always! I never heard of a deer whistle. They’re not necessary if the recommendations such as above were followed.

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