As we get into the peak season of vehicle collisions with deer and elk in Oregon, the state fish and wildlife and transportation departments are reminding drivers to be cautious. And they’re reminding folks that while salvaging roadkill is OK, there are still rules to be followed.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) say collisions peak in October and November when migration and breeding means elk and deer are on the move. That means they’re more likely to cross the road in daylight hours and during rainy weather.
And unlike what we see in this video shared by Oregon State Police, they’re not likely to use the crosswalk.
ODOT says there are more than 6,000 collisions each year, and that’s only the ones they know about. Some aren’t reported because no humans are hurt or damage is minimal.
Drivers are reminded to:
- Be extra careful when driving in areas where wildlife crossing signs are posted.
- Be alert when rounding curves or where there is thick vegetation on the roadside
- If you see one animal, assume there is more nearby.
- If you see wildlife on or near the road, slow down and stay in your lane. Many serious crashes happen when swerving to avoid wildlife. The same rule is true for smaller animals like raccoons. While a collision with them would do less damage, swerving to avoid them could cause a crash.
- Always wear your seat belt
What happens if you hit and kill an elk or deer? ODFW has a roadkill salvage program.
Salvaging deer or elk that have been hit by a vehicle has been legal in Oregon since 2019. But there are some rules to follow.
Salvagers are required to fill out a free online permit available at https://myodfw.com/articles/roadkill-salvage-permits. More than 5,000 permits have been issued since 2019. Most are for black-tailed deer in Western Oregon.
Also, salvagers must bring in the head and antlers of all salvaged deer and elk to an ODFW office within five days so that they can be tested for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The neurological disease is potentially fatal and can be spread by infected animals for years without showing symptoms.
Although CWD has never been detected in Oregon wildlife, it was spotted late last year in northwest Idaho, about 30 miles from the Oregon border.
“With the disease now much closer to the state’s borders, we just want to remind roadkill salvagers about the mandatory testing requirements.” said ODFW Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Colin Gillin in a statement. “The more animals the state tests, the more certain ODFW can be that the disease is not in the state. If it is detected, ODFW can implement its response plan to contain the spread of the disease.”
Symptoms of CWD include loss of balance, drooling, emaciation or wasting and eventual death.