By Steve Rensberry, Editor
It’s hard not to live in this part of the country without seeing, coming close to, or getting in an accident with a deer. I’m one of the lucky ones, though I have come close several times. One of the worst I’ve witnessed occurred in the mid-1990s on US Hwy 13 about 3 miles south of Freeburg, as I was heading home to Lenzburg around dusk.
Keeping a good distance from the pickup driver in front of me, I watched as he suddenly swerved to the right, then sharply left again, narrowly missing a good size deer that had leaped over his car. No sooner had it cleared the hood, however, than there came another, and another, and finally one more that landed right across his windshield causing his truck to lose control and careen across a shallow ditch some 20-30 feet into a farm field on the opposite side of the road. Although I had a cell phone, signals were few and far between back then so I had to race to the nearest house a few hundred feet down the road and call for help. Fortunately, the driver escaped serious injury, even though his truck was practically totalled. The speed at which it all happened was alarming.
It definitely pays to be on guard, but even more so living in Madison County. According to officials with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Madison County was No. 3 in the state in the number of crashes involving deer in 2018, out of a total of 102 counties. That year there were 377 deer-related accidents in the county. This was second only to the counties of Peoria (391), and Cook (476). All can be considered medium to high density urban areas. Altogether there were 15,636 motor vehicle crashes involving deer in Illinois in 2018. Eight were fatal and 630 caused personal injuries to the driver or passengers.
“More than 40% of crashes involving deer in Illinois occurred in October, November and December, with November being the highest-risk month. Rural environments were the site of nearly 90% of all crashes involving deer, with more than 70% occurring at twilight or nighttime,” a notice from the IDNR states.
With deer mating season upon us, consider yourself warned!