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Motorists are being warned to be aware of the increased risk of collisions between deer and vehicles due to the shorter days at this time of year.
With night falling earlier, deer are more likely to venture on to grass verges near roadsides as they browse and feed.
In response to the potential risk, and to safeguard public safety, NatureScot – in conjunction with Transport Scotland and Traffic Scotland – is placing warning messages on electronic variable messaging signs (VMS).
Throughout this month signs have been warning motorists at key locations on the main trunk roads, including the A87, A82 and A85.
It’s estimated that collisions between deer and vehicles could be as high as 12,000 per year in Scotland, resulting in 50 to 100 human injuries.
The majority take place in early evening through to midnight, with another peak occurring from 6am to 9am.
Over the past 50 years, the number of wild deer in Scotland has increased, as has their range. In the same period, the volume of road traffic has almost doubled.
Jamie Hammond, NatureScot wildlife management officer said: ‘From October to December, deer are more likely to be on the road as they move down to lower ground to find food and shelter.
‘The highest risk is from sunset to midnight and shortly before and after sunrise.
‘Be aware that if you’re driving near woods, deer can suddenly appear before you have time to brake.
‘If you do hit a deer, report it to the police, even if you’re uninjured and your car isn’t damaged, as the deer may be fatally injured and suffering.’