After collisions with other vehicles and fixed objects, deer are the most common cause of vehicle crashes in Wisconsin. Most deer-vehicle collisions happen during October and November, so it’s a good time of year to remember to be extra vigilant and cautious, especially on rural roads and at night.
No matter how careful you are, however, there’s always a risk of a deer darting out in front your car before you have time to stop. In the unfortunate case of colliding with a deer, what do you do?
First, make sure you’re safe.
Pull over to a safe spot, turn on your hazard lights and access the situation. The conditions that made it hard for you to see the deer in time (darkness, curves, etc.) may make it harder for approaching vehicles to see you, so make sure you’re as visible as possible.
Call 911 and report the incident.
Even if it doesn’t look like the deer damaged your car, you’ll still want to call 911 and report the incident. Calling the police is especially important if the deer carcass creates a hazard for other drivers.
If you see any damage to your vehicle and decide to file an insurance claim, having an official report will simplify the process. Insurers usually will not consider you to be at fault for damages caused by deer collisions.
Waste not, want not?
If you’re wondering about roadkill meat going to waste, know that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources a pretty clear policy if you accidentally hit a deer. Under current Wisconsin law, if you want it, it’s yours. (This also holds if you accidentally hit a bear or turkey.) Pay close attention to the word accidentally, of course – the DNR is not encouraging you to use your vehicle for hunting.
If you’re interested in taking the carcass, you need to first call the DNR’s vehicle-killed deer hotline at 608-267-7691. The DNR will need to know your name, address and location of the collision.