DRIVERS are being urged to take extra care after a recent increase in collisions involving deer.

Police say they have seen an increase in reports of deer being hit by vehicles and they are now asking motorists to do what they can to protect wildlife, themselves and other road users.

The British Deer Society estimates that around 40,000 deer are killed or injured on UK roads. They add that collisions increase in the month of May as the animals are searching for new territories.

Since the start of May, at least seven deer have died after being struck by vehicles in North Yorkshire including on the A166 at Gate Helmsley, Rievaulx and Low Marishes. In all seven incidents, the deer’s injuries were not survivable.

North Yorkshire Police are now warning drivers to proceed with care this month and pay especially close attention in areas where warning signs exist, or where deer - alive or dead - have been spotted.

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police said: “As traffic increases on the roads, we have unfortunately seen a rise in collisions involving deer.

“A collision with a deer puts motorists at risk, and tragically often results in terrible suffering for the animal involved. That is why it’s very important for motorists to always expect the unexpected, especially when driving at night and on roads in rural areas.

“When you are travelling through a forested area, or see deer warning signs, check your speed, stay alert, and be prepared to stop.

“If using headlights, turn on full-beams when you can, but dip them if you do see a deer, as they may ‘freeze’. More deer may follow the first one you see, so remain vigilant.

“If you see an injured deer on the roadside, pull over at the next safe place, and call the police on 101, or 999 if the situation means lives could be at risk.

"We will deal with road safety issues and officers will be able to determine the best course of action for the animal if it is still alive.”

The highest-risk times for deer collisions are from sunset to midnight, and the hours shortly before and after sunrise. 

If you hit a deer while driving, your priorities should be:

  • Keep yourself and anyone with you as safe as you can.
  • Park your car in the safest place with hazard lights on.
  • Call an ambulance if human injuries warrant it.
  • Call the police, giving as precise a location as you can.
  • Don’t approach live deer – they may hurt you, or run across traffic causing another collision.