Watch out for deer and bear — and yourself

Autumn is here and along with colorful leaves, crisp air, and shorter days, deer are on the move throughout Rappahannock County. Fall is the breeding season for deer, so they will be more active over the next couple of months than at any other time of the year.

Motorists will also be driving more often in the dark, increasing the likelihood of encountering a deer on the road. Colliding with a deer can cause considerable damage to the animal, people, and property.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) recommend the following tips to avoid hitting a deer, and also provides a state rule if a deer — or a bear — is struck:

— Slow down and be attentive, particularly at night (from dusk to dawn). If you see one deer, watch out for others. Remember that deer habitually travel the same areas.

— Safely apply brakes to avoid hitting a deer, but never swerve out of the lane to miss a deer. A collision with another vehicle, tree or other object is likely to be more serious than hitting a deer.

— If you kill a deer or bear while driving, immediately report the accident to the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office, or other local law enforcement agency where the collision took place.

— If you kill a deer or bear while driving, you may keep it for your own use if you report the accident to a law enforcement officer where the accident occurred and the officer views the animal and gives you a possession certificate.

Last but not least, always wear a seat belt. Even if a collision is unavoidable, you are more likely to avoid injury or death if you are wearing a seat belt.

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