Deer are on the move, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol urges caution.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says drivers should be especially vigilant during evening and early dawn hours as deer become more active.

Deer behavior changes due to mating season, which may cause an increase in roadway crossings, the patrol said. Hunting and crop harvesting may result in these animals being in places they aren’t usually seen. Drivers are urged to remain alert.

Last year, drivers in Missouri experienced 3,563 traffic crashes where deer-vehicle strikes occurred. One deer strike occurred every 2.5 hours in the state. In these crashes, four people were killed and 367 injured.

Col. Ron Replogle, superintendent of the patrol, said when you see deer, slow down and proceed with caution. Deer often travel in groups. Stay on guard after a close call or when you see one deer. Natural features also affect deer movement. In areas where there are streams or wooded corridors surrounded by farmland, look for more deer to cross roadways.

Replogle said rural areas are not the only place where deer/vehicle strikes occur. In 2011, 26.7 percent of the traffic crashes involving deer happened in urban areas.

The majority of deer strike crashes occur from October through December each year, with the largest number taking place in November. Most deer strikes occur between the hours of 5 p.m. and 6:59 a.m.

The patrol reminds drivers that an attempt to avoid striking a deer could result in a more serious crash involving oncoming traffic. Try to remain calm. Panicking and overreacting usually lead to more serious traffic crashes.

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