Deer might be amongst the most attractive wildlife to wander our countryside but Dumfries and Galloway drivers have to told to regard them as a deadly road hazard.
The warning from Scotland TranServ comes as the evenings draw in and deer travel far and wide during their rutting season, often wandering right on to our busy trunk roads.
The roads agency has identified the A701 Beattock to St Ann’s route and the woodland-bounded stretches of the A75 as particular deer danger zones.
Isla Davidson, Scotland TranServ’s senior environmental specialist, said: “Deer are often more mobile at two particular times each year: in May and June young deer disperse from breeding grounds to search for new territory of their own.
“Meanwhile, October and November is the rutting season for the larger deer species like red deer, fallow and sika, when adult males challenge each other for breeding rights.
“Deer are particularly active around sunrise and sunset which, at this time of year, coincides with the peak commuter time when there are likely to be more vehicles on the road.
“Their darker winter coats make deer particularly difficult to spot, so please be extra vigilant as they can appear without warning out of the fields and woodland that border much of the region’s road network.”
Figures on the number of DVCs (Deer-Vehicle-Collisions) collated from the National Deer-Vehicle Collisions project suggest that while it is safe to say 40,000 deer are killed in vehicle strikes every year, due to under-reporting this figure could be as high as 70,000 across Britain as a whole.
At the same time, conservative estimates of 400 injuries to vehicle occupants related to these collisions could well be nearer 1,000 annually.
Dr Jochen Langbein, who oversees the Deer Vehicle Collisions Project, stated: “In Scotland, as in the rest of the UK and many other European countries, wild deer numbers have increased significantly over recent decades.
“Many people think most accidents with deer and vehicles occur on more remote Highland roads, but in Scotland at least 40 per cent occur on A-class trunk roads or motorways, including across much of South West Scotland’s road network.”
It is estimated that in Scotland there could be as many as 9000 collisions per year, resulting in anywhere between 50 and 100 human injuries with the total cost of material damage and injury thought to be around £9.5million.
Tommy Docherty, Scotland TranServ’s Network Control Centre Manager, said: “Our teams are particularly busy at this time of year, tackling the aftermath of deer collisions, not only dealing with the loss of life of this beautiful native animal, but the damage to cars and indeed injuries to drivers and passengers.
“It can be very distressing having to attend such incidents and our teams often need to contact animal welfare experts for them to put any injured deer out of its misery.”