ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — As summer wanes into fall, deer-vehicle accidents become increasingly common, says the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

According to the IDNR website, most deer-vehicle accidents occur during the months of October, November and December.

“Motorists need to be cautious every fall when deer are mating and are most active.  Drivers need to be on the lookout for these animals on country roads, interstates and even urban streets,” said Sam Flood, former director of IDNR.  “Be especially cautious where deer are likely to be present, such as wooded areas, stream and creek beds, farm field edges, and parks or forest preserves.”

Drivers can take steps to avoid an accident, such as using high-beam lights at night, slowing down when a deer is spotted, and exercising caution when driving near wooded areas or fields.

If an unfortunate collision with a deer does occur, you may want to know that white-tailed deer killed or injured as a result of a collision with a motor vehicle can be legally claimed in Illinois.

According to the IDNR:

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.