Public Health and Safety

Avoiding Deer-Vehicle Accidents (DVAs)

Deer often travel together. If you see one deer on or near the road be on the lookout for more. Photo courtesy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

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Most deer-vehicle accidents (DVAs) occur during the months of October, November and December. Another peak occurs in May and June as one-year old deer are dispersing to new areas. However, DVAs can happen at any time of year. Deer are crepuscular, meaning that they are active at dawn and dusk. Thus, it is not surprising that most accidents involving deer happen between the hours of 5 to 10 p.m. and 5 to 8 a.m. While not all deer-vehicle collisions can be prevented, there are steps that drivers can take to avoid an accident.

What To Do After a Deer-Vehicle Accident

The Illinois Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations documents what to do if you find a deer that has been killed or injured.

What To Do If You Find A Deer That Was Killed Or Injured By A Motor Vehicle And You Wish To Claim It

White-tailed deer killed/injured as a result of a collision with a motor vehicle may be legally possessed by an individual if the following criteria are met:

  1. The driver of a motor vehicle involved in a vehicle-deer collision has priority in possessing a deer. If the driver does not take possession of the deer before leaving the collision scene, any citizen of Illinois who is not delinquent in child support may possess and transport the deer.
  2. There is no limit to the number of deer that may be possessed under these circumstances.
  3. Individuals who claim a deer killed in a vehicle collision shall report the possession of the road-kill deer to the Department of Natural Resources within 24 hours via the IDNR website at http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/pdf/deer_road_kill.pdf or report the possession of the road-kill deer by telephoning (217)782-6431 no later than 4:30 p.m. on the next business day.
  4. Except for any law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties, it shall be illegal to kill a deer crippled by a collision with a motor vehicle.
  5. No part of a vehicle-killed deer can be bartered or sold.
  6. The State of Illinois is absolved of any and all liability associated with the handling or utilization of vehicle-killed deer. This does not, however, relieve involved parties from reporting other liabilities to appropriate agencies as required.

What To Do If You Find A Deer That Was Killed Or Injured By Methods Other Than Lawful Hunting Or A Vehicle-Deer Accident And You Wish To Claim It

White-tailed deer killed/injured as a result of methods other than lawful hunting or a vehicle/deer collision, may be legally possessed by an individual if the following criteria are met:

  1. Any individual finding a dead or crippled deer other than those killed/injured in a vehicle/deer collision, or legally taken by hunting methods, shall not transport said deer parts until permission is obtained from a Conservation Police Officer or a Regional Office. (Permission will be granted if it is determined that the person requesting possession did not illegally kill or injure the deer. When retained, the head/antler and hide shall be properly tagged with an irremovable tag obtained from the Regional Law Enforcement Office. The head/antler or hide tags shall remain attached to the head/antler or hide as long as the head/antler or hide remains in the green state, or when in a commercial manufacturing process).
  2. There is no limit to the number of deer that may be possessed under these circumstances.
  3. Except for any law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties, it shall be illegal to kill a deer crippled under these circumstances unless permission has been obtained from a Conservation Police Officer or the Regional Office (see phone numbers on page 1 of the Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations).
  4. No part of a deer killed by methods other than hunting can be bartered or sold.
  5. The State of Illinois is absolved of any and all liability associated with the handling or utilization of deer killed by methods other than lawful hunting. This does not, however, relieve involved parties from reporting other liabilities to appropriate agencies as required.

Disease

Diseases That Affect Humans

Lyme Disease

Deer are an important link in the life cycle of the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) (also known as the deer tick), serving as hosts for the adult stage of the tick. Black-legged ticks can be carriers of a bacterium (Borrelia burgdorferi), which causes Lyme disease. Humans can become infected when bitten by a tick that carries the bacterium. Deer do not transmit the disease, but coming into contact with deer can increase the risk of exposure to ticks. Lyme Disease can be treated with antibiotics if diagnosed early. For more information about Lyme disease please visit:

Ticks carried by deer can also be carriers of Erlichiosis, Babesiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Deer can also be carriers of Toxoplasmosis.

Diseases That Affect Deer

Note: These diseases are not known to be transmittable to humans.

A buck is sampled for Chronic Wasting Disease at a deer check station. Photo courtesy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

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Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) was first discovered in Illinois in 2002. Chronic wasting disease is a neurological disease that is fatal to deer, and it poses a serious threat to deer populations in areas where it occurs. There is currently no treatment or vaccination available.

 

CWD has been known to occur in deer and elk in the United States for years. In spite of ongoing surveillance for similar disease syndromes in humans, there has never been an instance of people contracting the disease from butchering or eating meat from CWD infected animals. A World Health Organization (WHO) panel of experts reviewed all the available information on CWD and concluded that there is no scientific evidence that CWD can infect humans. However, there is much that scientists still do not know about CWD, and we cannot state that transmission of CWD to humans is absolutely not possible.

The distribution of confirmed cases of CWD in Illinois.

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It is recommended that the brain, spinal cord, and other tissues associated with the nervous system not be eaten, and that contact with spinal fluid be avoided. The Illinois Department of Agriculture also provides information on precautions for handling and processing deer. For more information about CWD please read the "What Illinois’ Hunters and Landowners Need to Know" brochure and visit:

A major outbreak occurred in 2012.

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The distribution of cases of EHD in Illinois in 2011.

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Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD)

Epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) likely occurs every year in Illinois. The last major outbreak was in 2007. A virus spread by biting midges or gnats causes EHD. The disease causes fever and severe internal bleeding and is often fatal. The impact on deer populations is not predictable because outbreaks depend upon weather conditions that influence the size of the midge population. Drought conditions in late summer and early fall contribute to increased incidence of this disease. Limited water availability concentrates deer in the vicinity of the mud flats required in the insect vector’s life cycle.

Bovine Tuberculosis

This disease has been discovered in wild white-tailed deer in other Midwestern states (Michigan, Minnesota). The Illinois Departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources have routinely sampled hunter-killed animals for many years to confirm that the state remains free of this disease. For more information about this and other wildlife diseases go to: http://icwdm.org/diseases/default.asp.