Public Health and Safety Issues

Be alert when you see deer crossing signs. 
Photo courtesy of Laura Kammin, University of Illinois Extension. Watch for white-tailed deer (<i>Odocoileus virginianus</i>) on roads, particularly in the early morning and evening hours. 
Photo courtesy of Adele Hodde, Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

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.state.il.us/law3/images/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.