When deer and automobiles meet, both lose, but it is usually the end for the deer.
A combination of factors appears to be making car vs. deer incidents more common across much of Idaho this winter. A general recovery of deer numbers may be the biggest contributor. Deer populations in most areas have risen since the last low point following the severe winter of 1992-93, and the increase has been especially noticeable in the last couple of years.
The rise and decline of deer numbers is nothing new, but rapid growth of rural residential areas in some areas, notably the Treasure Valley and in North Idaho, is new. More commuters through deer wintering areas simply means more chance of collisions. Many new Idahoans coming from urban areas and being unfamiliar with traditional deer migration spots might also be a factor.
Drivers should remember that deer are most active at dawn and dusk, often peak commuter times and when light conditions lend themselves to collisions. As deer begin to move back from winter ranges toward higher elevations, they may be crossing roads more frequently.
No complete records of deer-car collisions are kept, but one indication of the number of occurrences is that the manager of a Wildlife Management Area on Highway 21 east of Boise has picked up nearly 100 carcasses this winter.
Fish and Game personnel are often asked if deer killed by cars can be kept, as is legal in a few other states. Motorized vehicles not being a legal method of take in Idaho, carcasses cannot legally be kept. Most carcasses are, in any case, not acceptable for consumption because of internal damage.