AUGUSTA — The arrival of spring means deer are on the move along roadways. MaineDOT and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife are urging drivers to heed new posted warning signs and slow down, particularly in areas where historically a high number of deer-vehicle collisions have occurred.
Roadsodes generally are one of the first areas to green up with vegetation following the snow melt. Deer, that have been feeding on poor quality food throughout much of the winter, flock to roadsides where they can eat tender, green plants.
Recognizing the need to protect both motorists and deer, MaineDOT and MDIF&W have identified several seasonal areas where traditionally there are a high number of deer crashes and have installed unique signs that alert motorists to deer during this peak season.
These signs generally are specific to a 1-mile or less stretch of road with very high collision rates. It is extremely important that motorists watch for these signs and slow down.
“It’s a scenario we don’t like to see happen — a car hitting a deer, injuring the driver and the animal,” said MDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt. “Unfortunately, it does happen too often. Please, heed the roadside warning signs and be alert for deer that may want to cross in your path. Save your life, and that of the deer.”
The “Caution — High Hit Area” signs feature a silhouette of a deer, and are a bright, reflective orange and yellow. These hinged signs are only opened and displayed during this time of year, when deer collisions are frequent. As deer disperse away from the roads, these signs will be removed so drivers do not become accustomed to them. Next year, they will be deployed as deer start to move.
Signs recently were installed at a high deer crash area along I-95 in Sherman and area that is located near a deer wintering area, and crosses a traditional travel corridor used heavily by deer.
“As we work to reduce mortality factors on deer and rebuild Maine’s deer population, alerting motorists to these high-hit areas is critical,” said MDIF&W Commissioner Chandler Woodcock. “By slowing down and using extra caution in these limited-but-distinct sites, drivers have an opportunity to save a deer.”
Over the past two years, these orange-and-yellow signs have been installed at the following locations where there has been a history of deer/vehicle crashes during this time of year: Route 9-Amherst, Route 9-Wesley, Route 193-Cherryfield, Route 191- Jacksonville, Route 1-Edmunds, Route 1 in East Machias, Route 2-Oakfield, Route 212-Smyrna Mills and Route 1-Monticello.
Motorists who see these new signs should be aware that deer are likely in the area, and should drive accordingly.
During the past 10 years, Maine has averaged more than 3,000 deer-vehicle crashes annually.