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Motorists warned to be wary of deer on the roads in the Highlands


By Gavin Musgrove

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Motorists are being warned that deer could be in the road.
Motorists are being warned that deer could be in the road.

NatureScot is warning motorists to slow down and be on the lookout for deer on the road with increased collisions between deer and vehicles at this time of year.

Incidents of deer-vehicle collisions usually increase in late May and June, as young deer disperse to look for their own territories.

In response to the potential risk, NatureScot is working with Transport Scotland and Traffic Scotland to put warning messages on electronic variable messaging signs (VMS).

From tomorrow to Monday 13th June, the signs will warn motorists at key locations on the main trunk roads.

It is estimated that collisions between deer and vehicles could be as high as 9000 per year in Scotland resulting in 50 to 100 human injuries.

The majority of collisions take place in early evening through to midnight, with another peak occurring from 6am to 9am.

Over the past 50 years, the number of wild deer in Scotland has increased, as has their range.

In the same period, the volume of road traffic has almost doubled.

This combination has led to increased deer-vehicle collision rates across the country, with the greatest jump occurring in Aberdeenshire, Fife and the Central Belt.

Jamie Hammond, NatureScot wildlife management officer, said: "Particularly in peak times, we advise motorists to slow down and watch for deer crossing roads.

"Be aware that if you're driving near woods, deer can suddenly appear before you have time to brake. If you do hit a deer, report it to the police even if you’re uninjured and your car isn’t damaged, as the deer may be fatally injured and suffering."

Angus Corby, Transport Scotland landscape and biodiversity advisor, said: “As the government agency responsible for the trunk road network, Transport Scotland requires our operating companies to prepare annual deer management plans to take account of the likely impact of deer on the network and to develop possible mitigation strategies in association with adjacent local landowners.

"The agency works closely with colleagues in NatureScot and other relevant organisations with the aim of reducing instances of deer-vehicle collisions occurring across the trunk road network, helping to maintain road safety and supporting the welfare of the animals concerned.”

Driving tips to avoid deer include:

• Try not to suddenly swerve to avoid hitting a deer. A collision into oncoming traffic could be even worse.

• Only brake sharply and stop if there is no danger of being hit by following traffic. Try to come to a stop as far away from the animals as possible to allow them to leave the roadside without panic, and use your hazard warning lights.

• After dark, use full-beams when there is no oncoming traffic, as this will illuminate the eyes of deer on or near a roadway and give you more time to react. But dim your headlights when you see a deer or other animal on the road so you don’t startle it.

• Report any deer-vehicle collisions to the police, who will contact the local person who can best help with an injured deer at the roadside. Do not approach an injured deer yourself – it may be dangerous.


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