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The rut returns — watch the roads

If you are in Ocean City this week, you may notice a couple of changes as you drive down Coastal Highway. The speed limit, normally 40 mph through North Ocean City, has been reduced to 30 mph, and Downtown, the speed limit has also been reduced. This is due to the expected, unauthorized H2Oi Pop-Up Rally.  It is reasonable to expect heavier than usual traffic, noise and strict enforcement of vehicle laws during the week and weekend.

The picturesque highways and back roads of Maryland, dotted with farmland especially on the Eastern Shore, certainly makes for interesting driving, but it also makes wonderful habitat for deer.

Wonderful habitat does a few things, but one of them is providing a place for more deer. Early November is, according to the deer, the best time to engage in the activity that eventually results in more deer – and they won’t let little things like roads or the hulking metal beasts moving at many miles per hour stop them.
Bad news for deer in pursuit of an altogether different goal and bad news for the divers piloting those hulking metal beasts.
Deer can’t really be reasoned with. Not yet or in any way we recognize as far as we know. Drivers, well drivers read websites. Nice ones like this.
The deer mating season, colloquially called the “rut,” begins in early November but the next few weeks are really the most dangerous for drivers.
Deer cause millions in damage to cars each year – often at the cost of their own lives. I doubt it’s a deal they would make voluntarily but be that as it may the deer can’t really help themselves. Drivers can – sometimes.
The roads are beautiful this time of year. The leaves are hitting peak color and are falling gently, the Fall foliage making the Maryland highways less like functionary paths and more like guides on a sightseeing tour. And because the best roads are often those less traveled by people they are occasionally more traveled by other creatures.
However, deer don’t always stick to the back roads either – new development and other considerations have affected some migratory patterns. In short – deer go where they want when they want. This, when bearing in mind the goal of the travels, would adequately describe some people and not just local fauna.
Published reports cite a survey by State Farm Insurance that ranks Maryland 13th in the nation for deer-related accidents. The numbers fell year over year with 110 deer-related accidents last year and 146 the year before. Fifty percent of those crashes are reported to have occurred in October and November.
Deer frequently travel in packs, so if you see one deer crossing the road hunting for a little something on the other side – there are usually more. The deer are concern enough, but other drivers are also dodging them, so proper vigilance in avoiding both deer and the other drivers is warranted.  
While keeping all this in mind it’s also important to remember to not send your car careening off the road in order to avoid an accident. The advice is usually to hit the deer rather than send your car into a ditch.
So if you’re out, about and scooting around Maryland roads on your way to your favorite seafood restaurant, Annapolis hotspot or Ocean City retreat keep an extra eye on the roads (if you’re in possession of a spare) because the deer have another goal on their minds.

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