Drivers across Ayrshire are being advised to look out for deer on trunk roads and motorways, particularly as the evenings draw in.
The deer rutting season is at its peak and Scotland TranServ has identified the A77 between Ayr and Kilmarnock, and the A78 Three Town’s bypass as hotspots for deer strikes. Their staff deal with the aftermath of deer collisions, calling on animal welfare experts to put the injured deer out of its misery.
Isla Davidson, Scotland TranServ’s senior environmental specialist said: “Deer are particularly active around our roads twice 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 of large deer species (red deer, fallow and sika), when adult males challenge each other for breeding rites.
“They are particularly active around sunrise and sunset, which at this time of year is the peak commuter time.
“Their darker winter coats make deer particularly difficult to spot, so please be extra vigilant as they can appear out of the fields and woodland that border much of the region’s trunk road network.”
It is estimated that between 40,000-70,000 deer a year are killed in vehicle strikes in the UK, and conservative estimates are that there are 400 injuries to vehicle passengers related to these collisions.
It is estimated that in Scotland the figure could be as high as 9,000 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 £9.5 million.
Dr Jochen Langbein, who oversees the Deer Vehicle Collisions Project, added: “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 percent occur on A-class trunk roads or motorways, including across much of south west Scotland’s road network.”
Across the UK, there are around 1.5million deer living in the wild, with six main species, with Roe Deer, Red Deer, Sika and Fallow Deer most prevalent in Scotland.
IAM Roadsmart’s Tim Shallcross offers a few tips that may help motorists avoid a deer strike: “Deer are well camouflaged and make use of cover such as trees as a defence against predators.
“Maximise your vision by using your headlights at dusk and dawn – don’t rely on daytime running lights. Watch for the reflections of your lights in their eyes – two small points of light ahead could be a deer looking at you.
“Deer are social animals – if one crosses the road ahead of you, slow right down because the rest of the herd may be close behind and will follow without looking for traffic.
“Finally, if deer stop in the road ahead, a single blast of the horn will often scare them away, but slow down first. Don’t assume the deer will move and make sure you can stop safely if it doesn’t.”