MIKE BRAUN Keep an eye out for deer

It's getting to be that time of year when you need to be extra cautious when you go driving in the rural areas of Ohio and Pennsylvania.
One of the strongest animal instincts is that of reproduction. A male deer will do just about anything if he is in hot pursuit of a doe in heat, and a doe will often do just about anything to get away from unwanted attention if she isn't looking for a little action.
Combine these two scenarios and you have a recipe for the negative deer-vehicle interaction commonly called an accident.
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, there were 27,425 such interactions in 1999 and 26,898 in 2000.
As one who has been on the driving end of such an event, let me tell you it isn't any fun. Aside from the damage it causes to your vehicle, and often the death of the deer, such accidents may also result in death or serious injury to drivers or passengers.
That's why the ODNR, Ohio State Patrol and the Ohio Insurance Institute have the following precautions for motorists:
UDrive at or below posted limits in areas with deer-crossing signs.
UMost crashes occur October through December, followed by May. Highest-risk periods are from sunset to midnight followed by the hours shortly before and after sunrise.
UIf you see one deer on or near a road, expect others to follow. Slow down and be alert.
UAfter dark, use high beams when there is no opposing traffic. The high beams will illuminate the eyes of deer on or near a road and provide greater motorist reaction time. But don't rely solely on high beams or deer whistles to deter such collisions.
UAlways wear a seat belt as required by state law and drive at a safe, sensible speed for conditions.
UDon't swerve your vehicle to avoid striking a deer. If a collision with a deer seems probable, then hit it while maintaining full control of your vehicle. The alternative could be worse.
UStay alert. Deer are often unpredictable, especially when faced with glaring headlights, blowing horns and fast-moving vehicles. They often dart out into traffic on busy highways in metropolitan areas.
UReport any deer-vehicle collisions to a local law enforcement agency or a state wildlife officer within 24 hours.
Mahoning County is one of the seven largest metropolitan counties in the state (Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Lucas, Montgomery and Summit) that experienced a decline in such accidents from 1999 to 2000. However, overall, of Ohio's 88 counties, 44 saw a decrease and 44 experienced an increase in deer-vehicle accidents.
If you do happen to hit a deer, you should know that, under Ohio law, the driver of a vehicle that strikes and kills a deer may take possession of it by first obtaining a deer possession receipt. These are available from law enforcement or state wildlife officers, and from local Division of Wildlife district offices.
If you have no need for the meat, consider having it butchered and contact a local food pantry about donating it for the hungry. At least a negative incident could be put to good use that way.