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Car-deer crashes up in October on county roads

October was a bad month for cars and deer on Dakota County roads. Of the 57 accidents involving deer this year in the county, 14 took place last month.

That's slightly less than a quarter of the year's total in one 31-day stretch.

Last year there were 59 car-deer accidents all year on Dakota County roads, and sheriff Dave Bellows said the accidents tend to be more common toward the end of the year.

"The fall, especially from about late September, October, November tend to be high total months," Bellows said. "The deer are in rut, so we seem to have more accidents. Plus, as we go off of daylight savings time we pick up a little more dark time."

Bellows knows how quickly a deer can appear in front of a moving car. The department has had its share of accidents over the years, including some when deputies were responding to calls at high speed. Bellows has watched video from squad cameras of a road that appeared to be clear one second and were blocked by a deer the next.

The department has put guards on all of its marked cars to minimize the damage caused by car-deer crashes and to protect the driver from a deer coming through the windshield.

Most car-deer accidents result only in property damage, but there have been incidents where deer have come through a windshield and killed a driver or a passenger.

Hitting a deer can cause problems, but Bellows said trying to avoid them can sometimes be worse.

"We handled an accident just on Sunday night where a motorist was driving down a road, attempted to avoid a deer and rolled his car," Bellows said.

Bellows said drivers should use extra caution this time of year. Days are shorter, and more deer are out. And if you see one? Watch out. There are usually more somewhere nearby.

"I have that warning every year at this time," Bellows said. "Be especially watchful for deer.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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