Wildlife-vehicle collisions are costly; motorists encouraged to safely avoid crashes

November 8, 2022

The Wyoming Department of Transportation is cautioning drivers about an increase in wildlife/vehicle collisions and other wildlife crossing highways.

An increase in Wyoming wildlife/vehicle collisions normally occurs in the fall and winter months, partially due to migration and shorter daylight hours. This wet spring and summer's hot weather and green grass in the state rights-of-way, however, seems to be encouraging deer and other wildlife to move toward and across highways, according to WYDOT District Engineer Pete Hallsten of Basin.

"Our maintenance personnel are seeing an increase in dead deer," Hallsten said. "Hitting a deer can also be a very costly expense, and sometimes it can be a life-threatening incident."

WYDOT offers tips for avoiding wildlife/vehicle crashes:

  • Avoid swerving your vehicle; swerving may cause drivers to lose control of their vehicle, which may result in a more serious incident;
  • Pay attention to changes in habitat types along roadways. Creek bottoms and where agricultural fields meet trees are prime areas for wildlife to cross roadways;
  • Deer are herd animals; if you see one, watch for more;
  • Deer crossing signs show where high levels of deer/vehicle crashes have occurred in the past;
  • Pay extra attention when driving at dawn and dusk when animals are most active;
  • When you see deer, activate your vehicle's horn several times and flick your headlights (if no oncoming traffic is present), and reduce your speed. The horn and flicking lights may spook the deer into running across the road, so remember to reduce your speed;
  • Wear your seat belt, use appropriate child safety seats and drive at a safe speed; driving slower at dawn and dusk may help you avoid a collision;
  • If possible, use your high-beam headlights as much as possible; watch for the shining eyes.

If you hit a deer or other species of wildlife:

  • Slow down, pull to the highway shoulder and turn on the emergency flashers;
  • Don't worry about the animal. Law enforcement and WYDOT will arrange to have the animal removed from the roadway or shoulder. Tell the dispatcher if the animal is still in the roadway when you're calling for help;
  • If possible, remain buckled up in your vehicle, protecting yourself and your passengers in the event there is a secondary crash involving another vehicle;
  • If you and/or your passengers must exit your vehicle, stand as far off the roadway as possible;
  • To report a crash, call the Wyoming Highway Patrol at 1-800-442-9090.

"It doesn't matter if you, the driver, are traveling on rural roads or busy highways, the threat of hitting a deer or other wild animal is very real," Hallsten said. "All drivers should take extra precautions this time of the year to enhance safety while traveling on our highways."

For information about WYDOT's work, contact WYDOT public relations specialist Cody Beers at (307) 431-1803.