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Motorists urged to watch for deer

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources urges motorists to slow down after sundown and before sunrise, to avoid a collision with a white-tailed deer.

MnDOT reports more than 20,000 deer-vehicle accidents annually. The DNR estimated that only a third of the accidents are actually reported.

Any Minnesota resident may claim the animal by contacting a law enforcement officer. An authorization permit will be issued allowing the individual to lawfully possess the deer.

If a deer is struck by a vehicle, but not killed, drivers should stay a safe distance away from the deer, as some deer may recover and move on. However, if a deer does not move on or poses a public safety risk, drivers should report the incident to a DNR conservation officer or other local law enforcement agency.

The DNR offers the following tips to motorists:

- Motorists should not rely on deer whistles or deer fences to deter deer from crossing roads. Stay alert.

- Watch for the reflection of deer eyes and for deer silhouettes on the shoulder of the road. If something looks slightly suspicious, slow down.

- Slow down in areas known to have a large deer population, where deer-crossing signs are posted, where deer commonly cross roads or where roads divide agricultural fields from forest land, and in forested areas between dusk and dawn.

- Motorists should not swerve to avoid a deer. Swerving could cause the vehicle to strike another vehicle, tree or object.

- Deer are unpredictable. They stop in the middle of the road while crossing, sometimes crossing and re-crossing the same path. Assume nothing, slow down and blow your horn to urge the deer to leave the road.