Deer causing driving hazards across county

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By Joshua Shepherd

By Josh Shepherd, News writer

For 13 days in November, the Harrison County Sheriff’s office reported investigating at least 12 car accidents involving deer.

From Saturday, Nov. 9, to Friday, Nov. 22, deputies have responded to at least one accident involving a deer every day. Time appears not to be much of a factor. There were as many accidents occurring in the early morning as there were accidents at night.

The majority of the accidents, five in all, occurred at various points along U.S. 27. The remaining accidents occurred on country lanes and smaller highways.

Surprisingly, this year, there have been fewer accidents reported on KY 36 even though that main highway through Harrison County is far more rural.

Though there has been no official year-to-year comparisons, the number of deer related accidents are down from this point last year.

However, according to Sheriff Bruce Hampton, even though the incidence of deer collisions may be down this year, he doubts that it indicates a trend toward fewer deer-car accidents in the future. He’s just glad that there are not as many, so far.

“We have a huge deer population in this county. It’s probably too big,” Hampton said. “But during hunting season, the herds get stirred up and we’re going to naturally have a lot more accidents.”

Sheriff Hampton also attributed the increase in deer collisions to the expansion of the Harrison County population, particularly with new farms and neighborhoods encroaching on areas where deer were once isolated.

“When food gets scarce out in the woods come winter time, people’s homes and their garbage brings the animals out quite a bit, too. That’s why you see a lot of animals trespassing in populated areas,” he added.

The best advice the sheriff’s office can give during this time of heightened road activity is a bit unexpected.

Obviously, in the early mornings and evenings especially, drivers should be very aware of their surroundings as much as possible and keep to the speed limit.

Those measures will reduce accidents, but they won’t prevent all of them. 

Deer encounters will occur, he said. It is inevitable. But when they do, “try not to swerve out of the way.”

Panicked drivers who try to swerve out of a deer’s way can find themselves into a ditch that can roll a car or send one plowing into a tree. Both events will likely do more damage than hitting the deer, he said.

Swerving can also send someone into the wrong lane at the wrong time.

 “It’s impossible to predict what these animals are going to do. Sometimes, it’s just not possible to avoid these accidents. But if drivers are observing the speed limit, colliding with the animal will likely do less harm than trying to avoid it,” Hampton said.