A number of our readers will attest that the white-tailed deer is not particularly elusive in Central Missouri.
Reports of deer prancing through residential neighborhoods and turning backyard gardens into all-youcan-eat buffets are not uncommon.
Also typical are motorists sighting, slowing and stopping for deer crossing roadways.
Deer activity increases this time of year, prompting public safety and conservation officials to alert motorists to be vigilant.
Deer behavior changes during mating season in the fall, the Missouri Highway Patrol advises. The agency adds that hunting and crop harvesting may provoke deer movement.
Here are some facts about deer and accidents provided by the patrol:
• Missouri recorded 3,420 traffic crashes involving deer last year, which translates into one every 2.6 hours.
• Two people were killed and 352 injured last year in accidents involving deer.
• Rural areas are not the only places where such accident occur. In 2010, 29.8 percent of the traffic crashes involving deer happened in urban areas.
• The majority of crashes involving deer occur from October through December each year, with the largest number taking place in November.
• Most accidents involving deer occur between 5 p.m. and 6:59 a.m.
• Deer frequently travel in groups. Seeing one usually means others are nearby.
The patrol reminds drivers that attempting to avoid striking a deer could result in a more serious crash involving oncoming traffic.
"Try to remain calm," advises Col. Ron Replogle, patrol superintendent. "Panicking and overreacting usually lead to more serious traffic crashes. Please stay alert, and make sure you and the occupants of your vehicle buckle up!"
Deer have a well-deserved reputation for being alert to their surroundings. Motorists would do well to emulate that trait.