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Dear Mahatma: We were on Interstate 40 in Franklin County last week and were struck by the number of dead deer on the side of the road. If we had hit one and killed it, could we have turned it into venison summer sausage? -- Ambitious

Dear Ambitious: Deer are all over right now, chasing each other and avoiding the half-million or so hunters out in the deer woods. The Fabulous Babe was on Odom Boulevard in Maumelle a couple of weeks ago when a buck with spikes ran right in front of her. Collision was avoided.

Our next deer hunt will be our first, and we don't know doodly about this matter, so we asked Trey Reid. He was once a newspaperman, but went straight. Now he works for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Reid said Game and Fish doesn't have specific roadkill regulations but does have regulations regarding deer hunting and the possession of white-tailed deer, including requirements on checking and tagging harvested animals.

What's a driver to do if he hits a deer? If there's damage to the vehicle, the driver should contact police to generate an accident report for insurance purposes, Reid said. If the deer is injured and can't escape into the woods, often a law enforcement officer will dispatch the animal or contact that county's wildlife officer.

Should the driver decide to keep a deer that has been killed, an accident report is proof the animal wasn't hunted or poached. Game and Fish encourages anyone who takes possession of a deer under such circumstances to call the agency's dispatcher at (800) 482-9262. Both of these actions would prevent a driver from being ticketed for illegal possession of a deer.

While a driver doesn't have a legal obligation after hitting a deer, Reid said, an argument may be made that he has an ethical obligation to put down an injured animal as quickly and humanely as possible. But a wounded deer can hurt a human with its hooves and antlers, so wildlife professionals advise keeping a safe distance. Arkansas does have many hunters, and many citizens with concealed-carry permits, who would be able to end an animal's suffering, Reid said.

But think first -- cities in particular have ordinances against discharging firearms inside city limits.

We asked Reid if Game and Fish knew the number of annual deer-vehicle collisions. No, he said, but he remembered that data are collected by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Sure enough, the IIHS reported that in 2016, 189 people died in vehicle-animal collisions (no specific breakdown on kind of animal.) Seven of those fatalities occurred in Arkansas.

The State Farm Insurance Co. reported 1.33 million vehicle-animal collisions in the United States from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018. Those animals were deer, elk, moose and caribou. That meant one in 167 drivers made that insurance claim.

The most dangerous state was West Virginia, one in 46. Arkansas was categorized as a high-risk state with one in 106 drivers making that insurance claim.

Metro on 11/17/2018

Print Headline: DRIVETIME MAHATMA: Oh, deer! Call state if you hit one


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