Iowa motorists can expect to see more deer darting across roadways in the coming weeks. Iowa Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Tom Litchfield says the early harvest this year has deer on the move. They tend to be especially active around sunrise and sunset near creeks and wooded areas.

“I always tell motorists to be especially vigilant as they’re nearing low spots in the landscape,” Litchfield said. The D.N.R. has taken steps to reduce Iowa’s deer population over the last decade after a peak road kill total of 15,361 was recorded in 2004. Last year, the road kill total dropped to 10,626 deer.

The last four years, the (road kill) rates compare well to the mid 1980s through the early 90s. There’s been quite a difference from what we had between 2002 and 2006,” Litchfield said. The potential for deer/vehicle collisions in Iowa could decline more in the years to come.

Litchfield notes hunters killed just over 121,000 deer in Iowa in 2011. “I expect this year our reported harvest should drop six-to-seven percent just due to the decline in the deer herd,” Litchfield said. Deer population goals set by the DNR have been reached in roughly two-thirds of Iowa’s counties, according to Litchfield.

The chances for deer/vehicle collisions will rise a bit more in late October and early November as the “rut” or breeding season begins.