Be Deer and Elk Smart

Be Deer and Elk Smart

Preventing Conflicts

In most places, deer and elk are valued as watchable wildlife or as game animals. However, where hunting is limited and natural predators are few, deer or elk populations can increase to a point where conflicts with humans become a concern.

Problems associated with high deer and elk populations include damage to crops, ornamental plants, restoration and reforestation projects, and deer/vehicle collisions.

Problem areas are often where new development has appeared in traditional habitats. Problems associated with deer and elk include damage to trees, hay and alfalfa fields, orchards, and other agricultural crops. Those who live on the edges of new developments, or adjacent to undeveloped areas, may experience higher deer damage. However, deer readily adapt to human activity and are seen in unlikely places at times.

Tips for Driving in Deer and Elk Country

Vehicles kill hundreds of deer each year in Colorado. Deer will crossroads at any time of the day or night, creating a hazard for the vehicles, passengers, and deer. Most vehicle collisions involving deer or elk occur during the migration between winter and summer ranges in the spring or fall.

CDOT reminds drivers to be aware that vehicle collisions with wildlife peak in the Spring and Fall. For more information and statistics visit the CDOT website.

Here are driving tips to help prevent collisions:

  • Deer are most active at dawn and dusk. Be especially watchful during these times.
  • One deer crossing the road may be a sign that more deer are about to cross. Watch for other deer-- they will move fast to catch up with leaders, mothers, or mates and may not pay attention to traffic.
  • When you see brake lights, it could be because the driver ahead of you has spotted a deer. Stay alert as you drive by the spot, as more deer could try to cross.
  • Wonder why the person ahead is driving so slowly? The driver may know where to slow down and be extra alert for deer. Don’t be too quick to pass, and watch out.
  • Take note of deer-crossing signs and drive accordingly. They were put there for a reason.
  • Try to drive more slowly at night, giving yourself time to see a deer with your headlights. Lowering the brightness of your dashboard lights slightly will make it easier to see deer.
  • Be especially watchful when traveling near steep roadside banks. Deer will pop onto the roadway with little or no warning.
  • Be aware that headlights confuse deer and may cause them to move erratically or stop. Young animals in particular do not recognize that vehicles are a threat.
  • Deer hooves slip on pavement and a deer may fall in front of your vehicle just when you think it is jumping away.

If a collision with a deer seems imminent, take your foot off the accelerator and brake lightly. But—and this is critical--keep a firm hold on the steering wheel while keeping the vehicle straight. Do not swerve in an attempt to miss the deer. Insurance adjusters claim that more car damage and personal injury is caused when drivers attempt to avoid collision with a deer and instead collide with guardrails or roll down grades.

Fencing with Wildlife in Mind

FencingWildlife_0The Colorado Parks & Wildlife has published a guide to building fences that are designed to be effective and wildlife-friendly.
Residents may want to refer to this information sheet Fencing with Wildlife in Mind or this  publication to avoid fences that:

  • are too high to jump;
  • are too low to crawl under;
  • have loose wires;
  • have wires spaced too closely together;
  • are difficult for fleeing animals or birds to see;
  • create a complete barrier. 


Deer repellents use a disagreeable odor or taste, or a combination of both, to dissuade deer from eating the treated plant. They are easy to apply and homemade solutions are inexpensive. 

Numerous odor and taste repellents have been developed to reduce deer damage, and new products are continually becoming available. There have been numerous studies to test the effectiveness of these repellents, often producing conflicting results. No repellent eliminates deer damage entirely.

An All-in-One Homemade Deer Repellent

“Not Tonite, Deer…”

Mix the following in a 1-gallon tank sprayer:

  • 2 beaten and strained eggs— strain them to remove the white strings surrounding the yolk, which otherwise will plug up your sprayer).
  • 1 cup milk, yogurt, buttermilk, or sour milk
  • 2 tsp. Tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper
  • 20 drops essential oil of clove, cinnamon, or eucalyptus, found in small bottles at health food stores
  • 1 tsp. cooking oil or dormant oil
  • 1 tsp. liquid dish soap
  • Top off the tank with water and pump it up. Shake the sprayer occasionally and mist onto dry foliage. One application will last for 2 to 4 weeks in dry weather.

Looking for a shortcut to WildSmart? Bookmark the short URL at