D’oh! Here’s what you need to know about deer mating season in New Jersey
There is a brief scene on an episode of The Simpsons that in some ways may describes the reaction to seeing a deer on a New Jersey road during the fall-winter months.
Lisa: "A deer!"
Marge: "A female deer."
We are in peak deer mating season here in New Jersey which begs the question -- why did the deer cross the road?
"The deer crossed the road to get a date," Carole Stanko, NJ DEP Wildlife Management Bureau Chief, jokingly told Townsquare Media News.
In all seriousness, your eyes are not deceiving you, there has indeed been an uptick in deer crossing the road the last couple years across New Jersey.
"We always see an uptick this time of year and that's because it's the mating season, commonly known as 'the rut', where Bucks are chasing receptive doe's, so you will see deer dart across the road at anytime of the day or night but usually it's most likely at dusk or dawn," Stanko said.
If you're driving at night or in the early hours of the morning when it's still dark outside, you may notice in some instances deer stopping when they see lights -- thus, the deer in the headlights look -- but they don't always stop when they see you or your headlights so you need to drive with caution.
"When you do see a single deer cross in front of you, you should probably stop for a minute and look both ways because most likely there will be other deer behind it so don't think it's just that one deer -- just be cautious because there's a lot of them out there and they're very active at this time of year," Stanko said.
In the event that a deer stalls on the side or middle of the road, putting on your high-beams (when safe and legal to do so) may help in slowing down the doe, buck or fawn or more likely, you being able to see them first.
"I don't think it'll stop the deer but it will certainly let you be able to see them more quickly and be able to slow down or react to them being in the road so better for you if you can use you high-beams this time of year and scan the sides of the roadways," Stanko said.
That rings especially true, Stanko explains, driving along roadways that just have trees and you can't really see what's in those woods.
You may wonder why deer just dart across the road with reckless abandon and with no regard for your safety.
While weak, Stanko explains the deer do use their senses like their sight to see vehicles.
"I just don't think they associate them with danger or being a predator," Stanko said. "Deer are prey items so they alert to things like dogs or coyotes or any natural predator, they don't view cars as predators so sometimes they run out into the road or if they're being chased, they're going to run out into the road in front of deer without looking. They're a little more careless at this time of year, at other times of the year when they may stop and look in the road for vehicles, this time they're more apt to run right out into the road."
Your best bet driving during this time of year with the extreme unpredictability of deer is to be extra cautious on any and all roads.
"Don't drive distracted, put down the cellphone -- always good advice any time of the year -- use your high-beams if you can so you can see deer further out, if a deer is in the road don't swerve...most people become injured by swerving and hitting an immovable object like a telephone pole or a tree," Stanko said. "Better to hit the deer than to injure yourself."