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Drivers need to remain alert to avoid deer as temps cool down

As the weather turns colder, drivers need to take extra precautions while traveling during the evening and early morning hours to avoid deer that become increasingly more active during late fall and early winter.

While most drivers expect to see deer along country roads, driving inside the Oxford city limits can also pose a threat as the deer population increases; however, most streets inside the city have a low enough speed limit that avoiding a deer is a bit easier than when traveling at 60-plus miles per hour like on local highways.

“We have not seen many wrecks with deer yet,” said Oxford Police Department’s Maj. Jeff McCutchen. “We know that will increase, however, as the temperature drops. Your safest bet is to drive the speed limit, stay off your phone and scan the road. You will be able to see most deer before they make it on the road if you stay attentive.”

If you do hit and kill a deer, contact the police to have it disposed of, McCutchen said.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation is asking all drivers to take extra precautions while driving on highways at night.

“Mississippi averages over 3,000 deer-related crashes per year,” said MDOT executive director Melinda McGrath. “Hitting a deer can be a very costly expense and sometimes it can be a life-threatening accident.”

MDOT advises motorists watch for deer and drive with extreme caution, especially in posted areas. If you see one deer near the road, slow down and expect that other deer will follow. At night, use high-beam lights when no traffic is approaching. The high beams will illuminate the eyes of deer on or near the highway, and of course, buckle up to avoid serious injury should a collision occur.

Several products are on the market that may help deter deer like car-mounted whistles. However, drivers should not rely on them and remain cautious while traveling at night during cooler weather.

Deer control

For the last several years, the city of Oxford has been trying to reduce the number of deer inside the city limits using certified archers to control the population.

Bow hunting season started Sept. 30 and runs through Nov. 17.

In 2009, Oxford officials began working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to help establish the management program that utilizes bow hunters who go onto private property — with permission only — to hunt deer, particularly does, to help reduce the growing number of deer.

Deer populations can explode quickly, almost doubling every 18 months if left unchecked.

The hunting program involves using trained and certified crossbow hunters to hunt does and bucks during the regular hunting season inside the city limits. Hunting with guns is illegal inside the city.

Homeowners must request and give permission to have a hunter placed on the property during hunting season.

There are 36 licensed hunters taking part of the program this year, according to Jimmy Allgood, who heads up the program for the city and is also the emergency management coordinator.

“Our goal for this year is to harvest a minimum of 120 does to help maintain a healthy population, which is the recommendation from the state,” Allgood said.

Allgood said homeowners can apply for a hunter throughout the year. The application is online on the city’s website.

“If a homeowner wants to apply to submit their property, the owner can download the one-page application off of the city website under the deer management section, complete it, and return it to my attention at City Hall,” Allgood said.

The complete deer management program is available to read online, as well as applications for the homeowners at www.oxfordms.net. For more information, call Allgood at 816-7469.