Andover had the sixth-highest number of car crashes involving deer of any town in Massachusetts in 2021 and was one of the few towns outside the South Shore to crack the top 10, according to data released last week by AAA.
Statewide, the number of car-deer collisions jumped 18 percent last fall, including a crash every 50 minutes during November’s mating season. In Andover, there have been 16 deer collisions so far in 2022, including a high of four in November, according to Andover Animal Control Officer Katie Kozikowski. The AAA data showed 36 deer crashes in Andover in all of 2021.
And those collisions have happened throughout town — not just along the Andover Bypass, which borders Harold Parker State Forest
“We have acres and acres of forested land all throughout town and in addition to that, residents who have gardens as well as appetizing flowers that attract deer more inward and out from the forest,” Kozikowski said. “It does not appear that we have a common area where the most deer strikes occur, as they do happen all over town; some on side streets, but mostly along the busier roads of Andover – especially those with woods on either side.”
Deer Overpopulation Is At ‘Unhealthy’ Level In Massachusetts
The overpopulation of deer in Massachusetts has been increasing over the past several years. MassWildlife estimates there are more than 50 deer per square mile of forested land in most parts of the state; a “healthy” population is 12 to 18 deer per square mile, according to MassWildlife.
To address the overpopulation that has fueled a spike in collisions, MassWildlife is allowing hunters to kill an unlimited number of female deer in most parts of eastern Massachusetts in addition to two male deer. The agency is also running a pilot program this year that allows hunters to donate venison to people in need. The program was announced Sunday, on the eve of the two-week Massachusetts shotgun season that started Monday.
In Andover, the actual number of collisions is hard to determine, as many go unreported to Andover police and animal control.
“When responding to a deceased or injured deer call, in some cases, it can be hard to say exactly where the strike occurred if it is not called in by the driver or a witness and the deer is not killed on impact,” Kozikowski said. “As with people, deer can have an adrenalin rush at the time of an accident and can continue to travel before succumbing to their injuries.”
Avoiding Collisions With Deer
Mary Maguire, AAA Northeast Vice President of Public and Government Affairs, said she hit a deer last year while driving on a dark, curvy road. While she was driving slowly, the repair bill for her car was $6,000.
“Hitting a deer can have traumatic and devastating consequences and drivers need to be especially vigilant at this time of year,” said Mary Maguire, AAA Northeast Vice President of Public and Government Affairs. “The best defense against deer crashes is to be prepared and alert…If it can happen to me, it can happen to you—when you least expect it.”
Crashes are most likely to occur between 5 and 7 p.m. Kozikowski said the best way for drivers to prevent deer crashes is to avoid distracted driving.
“Keep your eyes on the road at all times,” she said. “It not only helps to keep others and yourself safe, but it keeps the animals safe as well. This is especially important during mating season and when doe have their fawn following behind them in the warmer months – something to keep in mind is, if you see one deer running across a road, pay extra attention for possibly a second following close behind.”
If you do hit a wild animal and believe the animal is injured and still alive and injured, contact Andover Animal Control, Andover police or the Massachusetts Environmental Police.
Photo: Andover Animal Control/Facebook