Oh, Deer! Hitting Bambi has consequences

Published 9:47 am Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hitting a deer can be a stressful experience, even if there are no human injuries. Not knowing how to handle the situation can increase the anxiety. There are a few things to keep in mind if you are involved in a deer-related automobile accident.

“Anytime you are involved in a traffic accident in the state of Ohio, you are required to report it,” said Sgt. J.P. Kisor, of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

“If there is someone injured, you need to remain at the scene. But if there is no one injured and the car is drivable, a report can be made later,” Kisor said.

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He said to pull over to the berm of the road and call 911, or OSHP if there are no injuries, right after the accident and they will direct you from there.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources law enforcement officer Chris Dodge said if the deer is dead in the middle of the road, and it is a lightly traveled road, then moving the deer off the road is a good idea.

“If it’s something that could be done safely, then yes, just to keep other motorist from hitting it. But not if there is a lot of traffic,” Dodge said. “If it’s a busy highway, I wouldn’t suggest trying to move it.”

In addition to the traffic, it is also important to be sure the deer is dead before trying to move it.

“They don’t always die immediately. They can be crippled, but not dead,” Dodge said. He added that once the deer is dead, the eyes will remain open and have a white haze over them.

“If it is still alive, a buck who has antlers can thrash its head around, and they will try to kick also. So if the deer is still alive, I wouldn’t recommend trying to approach.,” Dodge said.

He added that if the animal isn’t dead, shooting it to put it out of its misery isn’t the best plan.

“I’d recommend allowing law enforcement to dispatch the animal if it isn’t dead,” he said.

If a person wants to keep the deer they have hit, it is legal as long as a person gets permission from the officer who writes the report.

“They have to get a release from us that says they can have it,” Kisor said. “They would have to have to let the game wardens know why they have the deer and they can get it processed.”

As far as the safety of the deer meat after being hit by a car, Dodge said it is perfectly fine.

“It’s just the same as if you would have shot one, just an unfortunate circumstance that it was hit by a car,” Dodge said. “It is safe as long as it is fresh. The meat is still good.”

Deborah Nicely, insurance agent with Riverside Insurance Resources in Chesapeake, said a deer accident claim usually doesn’t cause insurance premiums to increase. If a person chooses to make a claim with their insurance provider, Nicely recommends promptness,

“The insurance companies need to be notified as soon as possible,” she said. Adjusters need to see proof that it was an accident involving a deer, such as hair or blood.

Nicely said if a person doesn’t want to make an insurance claim regarding a deer accident, they don’t need to contact the insurance agency.