J.B. Pritzker, Governor |

Deer–Vehicle Accidents

Avoiding a Deer–Vehicle Accident

Most deer–vehicle accidents occur during the months of October, November and December. Another peak occurs in May and June as one-year old deer are dispersing to new areas. However, accidents can happen at any time of year. Deer are crepuscular, meaning that they are active at dawn and dusk. So it is not surprising that most accidents involving deer happen between the hours of 5 to 10 p.m. and 5 to 8 a.m.

Photo: IDNR image gallery
Two white-tailed deer crossing the road.


While not all deer–vehicle collisions can be prevented, there are steps that drivers can take to avoid an accident:

What To Do After a Deer–Vehicle Accident

1. Pull the vehicle off onto the shoulder of the road and turn on the emergency flashers.

2. Attend to any injured passengers. Do not get out of the vehicle to check on an injured deer or to pull a dead deer from the road. Do not risk being hit by another motorist.

3. Call 911 to report the accident. They will dispatch the appropriate law enforcement officials to assist at the site. Illinois law requires reporting of accidents that result in $1,500 or more in damage; additionally, an accident report must be filed.

Claiming a Deer After an Accident

White-tailed deer killed/injured as a result of a collision with a motor vehicle may be legally possessed by an individual if the following criteria are met:

1. The driver of a motor vehicle involved in a vehicle-deer collision has priority in possessing a deer. If the driver does not take possession of the deer before leaving the collision scene, any citizen of Illinois who is not delinquent in child support may possess and transport the deer.

2. There is no limit to the number of deer that may be possessed under these circumstances.

3. Individuals who claim a deer killed in a vehicle collision shall report the possession of the road-kill deer to the Department of Natural Resources within 24 hours via this IDNR online form or calling (217)782-6431 no later than 4:30 p.m. on the next business day.

4. Except for any law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties, it shall be illegal to kill a deer crippled by a collision with a motor vehicle.

5. No part of a vehicle-killed deer can be bartered or sold.

6. The State of Illinois is absolved of any and all liability associated with the handling or utilization of vehicle-killed deer. This does not, however, relieve involved parties from reporting other liabilities to appropriate agencies as required.