In an article from Reason, the whitetail deer was dubbed the most dangerous animal in North America. It may seem like an odd statement, but when think about it, whitetails do pose a danger to humans, not just in Missouri, but around the country. The amount of people who die from deer towers that of people killed by bears or mountain lions, according to Reason. You may think that the people die from hunting as a result of getting too close to deer, but there are other ways that people die at the hands of deer.
Deer are a haven for ticks. According to the Reason article, ticks transmit Lyme disease to 13,000 people each year. Deer are also susceptible to a wide range of parasites, which is why it's necessary to thoroughly inspect and cook deer meat before consumption. As a Missourian, you may have heard plenty about Chronic Wasting Disease, and the zones around the state. CWD is a disease that slowly infects the brain of deer, but it is not transmittable to humans. However, it is important to be aware of the numerous diseases that deer can transmit. Other common diseases found in deer are Deer Fibroma, Deer Nasal Bots and Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease.
2. Deer Hooves
We normally think of deer as harmless, but their hooves are very sharp, and they will use them as a defense mechanism, if feeling threatened. Deer will also stand on their hind legs and take on a boxing stance, using their hooves as a weapon. That's why it's crucial not to get too close to deer, and to be aware of your surroundings to make sure you're not scaring them in any way. Deer will normally run if they see you, but you also don't want to get to close to an angry buck with sharp hooves and a crown full of sharp antlers.
1. Car Accidents
There are many fatalities each year from deer related accidents. There are 1.5 million deer-related car injuries, many of which result in 29,000 injuries and $1 billion in insurance filings. This increase in accidents stems from humans spreading into rural areas, encroaching on deer habitats.
Avoiding Deer Accidents
It is important to watch out for deer before sunrise and after sunset. And it is also imperative to watch for deer midday, since you may spot them frequenting roads. Pay attention to deer crossing zones (areas known for higher deer populations). Stay at or below the speed limit if driving during the night. Keep your eyes peeled on the road, and use your peripherals to spot any animal activity on the side of the road. All too often, deer will jump out of nowhere in the middle of the road, and this is where people get into accidents. Be especially watchful of agricultural areas, and isolated back roads surrounded by forests.
It is important to use your high-beam lights to add more vision if you are driving at night. If you see a deer in front of you, blink your high-beams at the animal. Deer go in a trance-like state when staring at lights (hence the term deer in a headlights), and blinking your lights breaks them out of that spell, so to speak.
Image from Brand Extenders
And if you see a deer on the side of the road in the middle of the night, honk your horn to scare away the animal. Not only will you be saving the animal's life, but you could be sparing another driver from future danger. If you're coming in contact with deer, brake firmly, but do not lock the brakes, since you could lose control of your vehicle. And most importantly, wear your seat belt, since many people that are killed in deer-related accidents do not wear them.
Deer are known to frequent and wander around the area in search of a mate, so it is important to be mindful of this during deer mating season.