DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife urges motorists to watch out for deer crossing roadways

Period of peak deer activity calls for vigilance at dawn, dusk and night

DOVER – With shorter days ahead – especially after the Nov. 3 change from Daylight Savings Time back to Eastern Standard Time – DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife reminds Delaware motorists, including 9-to-5 workers driving home at dusk, to be alert for deer crossing roadways. National statistics show that at least half of all deer-vehicle collisions occur during the last three months of the year, with the highest number of deer struck on the roadways in late October through mid-November.

State Farm Insurance recently reported that motorists made 5,816 deer/vehicle collision insurance claims in Delaware from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019, a 7.0 percent increase from the 5,435 during the same time period last year. Delaware ranks 26th this year out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia included in State Farm’s report on where deer-vehicle collisions are most likely to occur. Delaware is considered a medium-risk state with a 1-in-132 chance of a collision, compared to the national average of 1-in-146.

Attentive driving is the best way to avoid deer collisions. Keep these tips in mind, as suggested by the Delaware Office of Highway Safety, Delaware police agencies, auto insurance companies, and the Division of Fish & Wildlife:

  • Turn your headlights on at dawn and dusk and keep your eyes on the road, scanning the sides of the road as well as what’s ahead of you.
  • Switch to high beams when there is no oncoming traffic to better reflect the eyes of deer on or near the roadway.
  • Always wear your seatbelt to reduce your risk of injury in a collision.
  • Avoid distractions that might take your eyes off the road, even if only momentarily, such as cell phones, adjusting the radio, eating, or passenger activities.
  • Watch for “Deer Crossing” signs that mark commonly-traveled areas, and be aware that deer typically cross between areas of cover, such as woods or where roads divide agricultural fields from woods.
  • If you see a deer crossing the road ahead, slow down immediately and proceed with caution until you are past the crossing point. Deer usually travel in groups, so if you see one deer, there are likely to be others.
  • Slow down and blow your horn with one long blast to frighten deer away. Do not rely on devices such as deer whistles, deer fences, and reflectors to deter deer, as these devices have not been proven to reduce deer-vehicle collisions.
  • Do not swerve to miss a deer – brake and stay in your lane. Losing control of your vehicle, crossing into another lane, hitting an oncoming vehicle, or leaving the roadway and hitting another obstacle such as a tree or pole will likely be much more serious than hitting a deer.
  • If you hit a deer, stop at the scene, get your car off the road if possible, and call police. Do not touch the animal or get too close; an injured deer may bite or kick, causing serious injury.

For more information about white-tailed deer in Delaware, contact the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Wildlife Section at 302-739-9912.

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.

Follow DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife on Facebook, www.facebook.com/DelawareFishWildlife

DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife announces youth hunting days for 2019/20 hunting season

Youth waterfowl days set for Oct. 19 and Feb. 8, youth deer hunting weekend set for Nov. 2 and 3

Pictuere of the DNREC Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife DivisionDOVER – To promote youth hunting participation and recruitment, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife has designated special deer and waterfowl hunting days available to youth hunters ages 10 through 15 on both public and private lands statewide. Youth hunters can enjoy youth waterfowl hunting days on Saturday, Oct. 19, and Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. Youth deer hunting opportunities are provided for a full weekend on Saturday, Nov. 2 and Sunday, Nov. 3. The special deer hunting days are also open to adult non-ambulatory disabled hunters; the special waterfowl hunting days are only open to youth ages 10 through 15.

A Delaware Youth waterfowl hunter. DNREC photo/Mark Ostroski

Youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult companion age 21 or older who possesses a valid Delaware hunting license or a License Exempt Number (LEN). Only the youth hunter may possess a firearm when participating in these special hunting days, and they must be of sufficient physical size and strength to safely handle a firearm. Youth hunters age 13 through 15 must purchase a Delaware junior hunting license, have completed a hunter education course, and possess their hunter education card. Adult companions must also possess a Delaware waterfowl (duck) stamp, unless exempted, and a federal migratory bird stamp for youth waterfowl hunting days. Waterfowl hunters under the age of 16 are not required to purchase a Delaware waterfowl (duck) stamp or a federal migratory bird stamp. Youth hunters age 10 through 12 must possess a LEN and may take a hunter education course.

If participating in youth hunting days on state wildlife areas where deer stands and waterfowl blinds are assigned through a daily lottery, youth hunters and accompanying adults do not need to purchase a deer stand/waterfowl blind lottery permit. A deer stand/waterfowl blind lottery permit is required to hunt these areas during all other deer and waterfowl seasons. The deer stand/waterfowl blind lottery permit is not required for non-ambulatory disabled hunters during the special deer hunting days. Consult the specific Wildlife Area Hunting Maps for more information regarding deer stand and waterfowl blind daily lotteries.

More information on hunting license and Delaware waterfowl stamp requirements is available at Delaware Licenses. All waterfowl and other migratory game bird (except crow) hunters will need a Federal Harvest Information Program (HIP) number. To register for a LEN or HIP number, hunters can go to Delaware Hunter and Trapper Registration or call toll free 1-855-335-4868.

To purchase a hunting license, either in person or online, hunters born after Jan. 1, 1967, must have a basic hunter education safety course card/number. Hunters who took a Delaware hunter education course starting in 2008 can print their hunter education card by going to http://de.gov/huntersafety. Hunters who took their Delaware hunter education course before 2008 should call the Hunter Education Office at 302-735-3600, ext. 1 to obtain a hunter safety card.

Registered motor vehicles used to access designated wildlife areas owned or managed by the Division of Fish & Wildlife are required to display a Conservation Access Pass (CAP). Hunters can opt to receive one free annual CAP with the purchase of any Delaware hunting license. To obtain a free CAP, or to purchase an additional pass, hunters will need the registration card for the vehicle to which the pass will be assigned.

Delaware hunting licenses, Delaware waterfowl stamps, and Conservation Access Passes can be purchased online at Delaware Licenses, at the license desk in DNREC’s Dover office at 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901, or from hunting license agents statewide. Federal migratory bird stamps are available at U.S. Post Offices, Bombay Hook and Prime Hook national wildlife refuges, and online at Federal duck stamps.

For more information on hunting, please see the 2019-2020 Delaware Hunting & Trapping Guide and Wildlife Area Hunting Maps. Hard copies of the guide and newly-updated hunting maps are also available at the license desk in DNREC’s Dover office. More information on hunting licenses, season details, and conservation access passes is also available by calling the Wildlife Section office at 302-739-9912.

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.

Follow the Division of Fish & Wildlife on Facebook,


DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife announces 2018/19 deer hunting harvest ranks as state’s 2nd all-time highest

A white-tailed doe/USFWS photo

DOVER – Hunters in Delaware harvested 14,883 deer during the 2018/19 hunting season, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife announced today – the sixth year in a row that the state’s white-tailed deer harvest has exceeded 14,000 deer. This season’s harvest ranked as the second highest in Delaware’s history, exceeded only by last year’s (2017/18) harvest of 15,304 deer. Inclement weather limited the deer harvest during this past season’s opening weekend of the popular November deer shotgun season, which likely reduced the overall annual harvest.

The highest 2018/19 season harvest occurred in Sussex County, with a count of 7,735 deer, followed by Kent County with 4,299 deer taken, and New Castle County with a harvest of 2,849 deer. All Sundays during the various deer hunting seasons were open to deer hunting to provide additional hunting opportunities and to help manage the deer population, resulting in the harvest of 2,214 deer on these 23 Sundays from private lands and Division of Fish & Wildlife public wildlife areas.

Hunters harvested more female (doe) than male (buck) deer, consisting of 53.6 percent (7,982) does and 46.4 percent (6,901) bucks, with high doe harvest percentages an important tool for properly managing the size and quality of Delaware’s deer population. Antlerless deer – does, juvenile bucks without antlers known as button bucks, antlered bucks with antlers measuring less than three inches, and bucks that had already shed both of their antlers when harvested – represented 69.7 percent of the total harvest.

Additional and more detailed information will be made available on the Division of Fish & Wildlife website upon further analyses of the deer harvest data by division biologists.

For more information on deer hunting and management, contact the DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Wildlife Section at 302-739-9912.

Media contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 49, No. 116

Think twice before ‘rescuing’ young wildlife

DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife recommends, ‘If you care, leave them there’

DOVER – Whether in their own backyards or while taking a walk outdoors, Delawareans are likely to encounter young wildlife this time of year. While some young animals appear to be abandoned, usually they are not. In most cases, their mothers are watching over them somewhere nearby and waiting for you to move on. The Division of Fish & Wildlife reminds well-meaning Delawareans that when encountering young wildlife, regardless of species, the best thing you can do is to leave the animals alone.

Many wildlife species, including white-tailed deer, leave their young while they forage for food, visiting the young only a few times a day. This tactic, in addition to the young’s natural instinct to lay quietly while waiting for its parent to return, actually helps protect the young from predators by drawing less attention to them.

Removing or handling wildlife in any way can be harmful to both humans and wildlife. Precautions to take with both juvenile and adult wild animals include:If you see a young wild animal alone, watch from a distance to see if its mother returns, which could take several hours.

  • Be aware that wild animals can be unpredictable and sometimes dangerous, especially if they are in pain.
  • Wild animals can carry parasites or diseases that can affect you or your pets, such as fleas, ticks, or rabies.
  • Remember that it is illegal to raise or keep any wild animal in Delaware.

If a young wild animal appears injured or you are certain its parent is dead, please contact the Division of Fish & Wildlife during business hours Monday-Friday at 302-739-9912, or after hours and weekends at 800-523-3336, to determine the appropriate course of action, not only for your own safety, but also to help ensure the best possible outcome for the wild animal. Taking a wild animal from the wild is almost certainly ensuring it will not survive, so DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife advises, “If you care, leave them there.”

Follow the Division of Fish & Wildlife on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/DelawareFishWildlife.

Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 48, No. 141