Question: I noticed several freshly killed deer on the side of the highway yesterday. What are the traffic-related requirements when someone collides with a deer, and what are the game-related requirements for killing a deer? Is it legal to take the deer home?
Answer: If you are involved in a vehicle vs. deer/large animal crash, call 911 to report if there are occupant injuries, your vehicle is disabled, your vehicle or the animal is in the lane of traffic, or if the animal has been injured and is unable to run away. Law enforcement will be dispatched to your location to assist. It is important to stay in your vehicle so you do not put yourself in danger of getting struck by a passing vehicle.
The Minnesota State Patrol issues permits for road-kill deer generally at the time of the crash or soon after. Any Minnesota resident may claim a road-killed animal by contacting a law enforcement officer. An authorization permit can be issued, allowing the individual to lawfully possess the animal.
Here are some tips to avoid deer crashes:
- Drive at safe speeds.
- Be especially cautious from 6 to 9 p.m., when deer are most active.
- Use high beams when possible at night, especially in deer-active areas.
- Do not swerve to avoid a deer. Swerving can cause motorists to lose control and travel off the road or into oncoming traffic.
- Watch for the reflection of eyes and silhouettes on the shoulder of the road. If anything looks suspicious, slow down.
- Reduce speeds in areas known to have a large deer population — such as areas where roads divide agricultural fields from forest land and whenever in forested areas between dusk and dawn.
- Deer are unpredictable — they may stop in the middle of the road and change direction when crossing or move toward an approaching vehicle. Honk your horn to urge deer to leave the road.
- If a deer is struck but not killed, keep your distance as deer may recover and move on.
- Avoid all distractions while driving.
You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober. Help us drive Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths.
A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. If you have any questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at, firstname.lastname@example.org).