Hall County drivers who travel from dusk through dawn should mark down Nov. 10-16 on their calendars.
The week represents the peak movement of deer looking to mate and a greater risk for drivers to crash, said UGA professor of wildlife ecology and management Bob Warren.
Warren and other UGA researchers created a map following a study of deer rutting season, where deer roam around to find mates.
“We were surprised to the degree at which rut or peak rut varies around the state,” Warren said.
The research used crash information from 2005 through 2012 and studied the movements of deer with tracking devices.
The peak weeks for deer begin as early as Oct. 13 in coastline areas like Glynn County and end around Christmas for Seminole County residents on the southwestern border.
Hall County and surrounding counties Forsyth, Jackson and Gwinnett share the Nov. 10-16 peak deer movement week. Warren said changes in the acorn production in a year could change the rutting season by as much as one month.
“It could be as you get farther up into those mountain counties, up in White and Union, you’re a lot more into the mountains and differences in soil and level of nutrition, which we know affects when deer come into breeding conditions,” he said, noting White County’s peak week is two weeks after Hall’s week.
The Georgia Department of Transportation funded the UGA research to potentially provide drivers with advisories for deer activity and hunters with information about peak rut.
“In a lot of areas like up in Hall County, you still have pretty active hunting activity, which is going to help keep the deer populations more or less under control,” Warren said. “It would help mitigate that to some extent.”
By tracking 40 deer with GPS devices, Warren and the researchers studied how active the deer are during the night.
“We now know that deer are equally active throughout the entire evening from dusk to dawn, and the only reason that we have the peaks of deer-vehicle collisions are that that’s the time coincidentally when you’ve got the highest level of activity in deer and the largest number of motorists,” Warren said.
According to the Georgia DOT, an estimated 50,000 wrecks each year are attributed to deer, roughly 14 percent.
“Bottom line, a motorist in Georgia has a risk of a deer-vehicle collision almost any time. We’ve always known that they peak in the fall,” Warren said.