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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 October, 2004, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
Deer 'crashes' reach 15,000 mark
Dead deer on road
Measures to cut collisions with cars are being examined
New figures show deer are involved in about 15,000 incidents per year on Scotland's roads.

Black spots can be found as far south as Dumfries and Galloway, but the highest number of collisions are in the Highlands and north east.

Scotland has about 400,000 deer - more than other parts of the UK.

The RAC Foundation, which carried out the survey, said the figures were worrying in terms of both road safety and animal welfare.

Thousands of deer are killed or injured on the UK's roads every year, with 10 motorists dying in crashes involving deer. Millions of pounds worth of damage is being done to vehicles.

Whether or not the rutting behaviour of deer is a factor, it's probably not one we can do anything about
Nick Reiter
Deer Commission

Edmund King, of the RAC Foundation, said: "Hitting a deer presents a greater risk to motorists in comparison to other road kill incidents because of the large size of the animal."

He added: "Many additional accidents are caused by the tendency of drivers to swerve to try to avoid rather than hit the deer."

The worst time for such accidents is between now and December, as more motorists are driving in the dark.

In addition, it is the animals' mating season.

Nick Reiter, chief executive of the Deer Commission, said: "Whether or not the rutting behaviour of deer is a factor, it's probably not one we can do anything about.

"That's one thing the Deer Commission is not going to try to change."

Action plan

He added: "Deer incidents are a problem for sure. It is seasonal to a certain extent. It is probably growing, perhaps simply because roads are faster. There are more vehicles on the roads. It is worrying from the point of view of human safety, cost and deer welfare.

"You might get clusters of deer because they are being channelled on to the road because of some fencing, it might be because it's just a place to cross or it might be because there's something particularly tasty on the verge."

Mr Reiter said: "We have set up two local panels to look at two stretches of road to try to identify what the main factors are which might be causing clusters of accidents and then have a look at what mitigating measures might be effective in those particular cases.

"So, there will be specific lessons for those specific stretches of road, we hope. A lot of these lessons will be relevant at least to a certain extent to other stretches of road."

The Deer Commission said measures to cut accidents include looking again at roadside fencing, signs, tree planting right up to verges and drivers being more aware.

Wild deer numbers reached record levels in Scotland - with a devastating impact on parts of the countryside, according to a report last year.

The study was commissioned by conservation groups WWF and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

It blamed deer for a rising toll of road accidents and claimed they were affecting forestry, agriculture and the rural economy.

The organisations called for action to stem the increasing numbers.

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11 Feb 02  |  Scotland
Minister backs deer cull call
05 Nov 01  |  Scotland

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