Amorous stags chasing hinds pose dangers to road traffic during the annual deer mating season which is getting underway.
The warning came from the Irish Wild Deer Association which urged drivers to be especially vigilant in parts of the country with deer populations, particularly around dawn and dusk when deer are most active.
Deer create hazards when they cross roads and an average of 300 accidents involving deer are reported yearly.
Deer are also believed to have caused fatal crashes, particularly around Killarney, Co Kerry, where the national park has an estimated 1,000 Red and Sika deer.
Motorists are advised by the IWDA to reduce speed in high-risk areas and remain alert when they spot a road warning sign about deer.
Importantly, drivers should prepare to stop, rather than swerve when a deer crosses their path so as to avoid hitting another obstacle or an incoming vehicle, according to the IWDA.
“When you see a deer. dip your headlights as the full beam may cause a deer to ‘freeze’’. If a deer has crossed in front of your vehicle be aware that others may follow,” a spokesperson for the association stated.
Drivers are also advised not to approach an injured deer and to contact the gardaí if they come across a deer involved in an accident.
According to Independent Kerry councillor Danny Healy-Rae, deer-related accidents occur regularly on roads in the area, although without human fatalities, and he has called on National Parks and Wildlife Service to impose greater controls on deer which roam outside the bounds of Killarney National Park.
South Kerry coroner Terence Casey has been seeking improved signage and fencing in areas where deer are known to cross roads.
Mr Casey has presided at inquests arising from accidents in which cars have gone out of control on a stretch of outside Killarney and crashed into trees for unexplained reasons.
The belief is that the drivers may have swerved to avoid hitting a deer.
Meanwhile, the mating season, or ‘rut’, is an additional tourist attraction in Killarney with many people taking part in guided walks to see the deer at close range.
The roars of the stags already echo through the glens, while the clash of antlers among male rivals will be heard until early November.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved