KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is warning drivers on Tennessee roads of the dangers regarding wildlife-vehicle collisions or WVCs involving deer. As the Thanksgiving holiday week is underway, thousands of drivers will be on the road; often crossed by deer as they move in search of a mate at this time of the year.

It’s a combination that has proven to be damaging: the holiday travel season on the heels or hooves of the rut, or the fall breeding season for white-tailed deer in Tennessee. However, WVCs occur year-round throughout the state.

TWRA spokesman Officer Matt Cameron took to social media this week to remind drivers “don’t veer for a deer.” Cameron also says at this time of year, motor vehicle crashes with deer are very common. This is due to the rut for white-tailed deer, which leads to a heavy increase in their movements – thus causing them to cross roadways and be struck by vehicles more frequently.

The video was shared in an effort to reduce the number of deer hit by vehicles and minimize the number of serious injuries and deaths, Cameron told WATE 6 On Your Side in an email.

“While driving, be alert for deer crossing roadways, and slow down to avoid a collision,” Cameron said in a video shared by TWRA. “But never veer for a deer. Doing so could cause you to lose control and swerve into oncoming traffic, or off the roadway – making the accident much worse.”

Along with the video featuring Cameron, TWRA shared that every year, around 1.5 million deer are hit by vehicles in the United States, causing numerous deaths and serious injuries, while costing over $1 billion in property damage.

TWRA also stated that although deer accidents may be unavoidable, swerving to avoid hitting them is inadvisable, as the accident may be far worse. 

“Please be vigilant for our wildlife in Tennessee and remember – don’t veer for a deer,” Cameron concluded in the video. Cameron later expanded via email on the topic of what to do if a driver collides with a deer.

While TWRA doesn’t investigate WVCs, the agency does have a regulation that allows motorists to keep wildlife struck by vehicles, Cameron said. This excludes bears. Also, if the driver hits a deer and it doesn’t die on impact, Cameron said TWRA encourages drivers to not approach it as it could be potentially dangerous; rather, call 911 and inform them that the animal is still alive and typically, E-911 will contact TWRA so a wildlife officer can provide assistance.