Wildlife collisions on the rise as hunting season opens across Ottawa Valley

Lanark County OPP say drivers hit 48 deer in their jurisdiction since the start of October. (Dylan Dyson/CTV News Ottawa)

Lanark County OPP say they have responded to 52 collisions involving large game wildlife since the start of October.

Of those 52 collisions, 48 of them involved deer and four involved bears.

The numbers come as firearm hunting season for deer opened on Monday. In Arnprior, staff at CarStar Collision Centre say they are seeing the results of those run-ins.

"In the last few weeks, we've seen a lot of collisions and, this last week, I think we've had three deer hits and one bear hit," says Mike Mulder, owner of the collision centre, who adds it seems this year there appears to be more vehicles coming in after wildlife encounters - and they aren't cheap fixes either.

"Generally, it can be anywhere from two to six-thousand, depending on how square they hit the deer," says Mulder. "Sometimes it is just a graze and it takes a mirror off which is fairly easy. But if you hit it straight on it will push the grill back into the radiator, the condenser, that sort of thing."

Sportsmen who frequent the valley during hunting season say the region offers the perfect conditions. Rob Argue, owner of Eastern Canadian Outfitters, a hunting outfitter and experience company, says the valley provides great habitat for wildlife and is easily accessible for many hunters from Ottawa.

"Any area there's a lot of traffic because there's a lot of people in an area where there's also a lot of game, it's bound to happen," says Argue. "And this is the time of year when animals are moving more, they're starting to feed more, getting ready for winter, and there's also the breeding season that's coming up."

Adding that the deer population has increased this season after an easier winter last year, Argue says that the dwindling daylight also plays a factor in affecting nature's schedule as well as humans'.

"A month ago, it would have been daylight out until eight o'clock at night," says the avid hunter and fisher. "These animals always move around at dawn and dusk, so dawn and dusk now is also the peak traffic times for people commuting to and from the city."

So, what is the best course of action, should you come across a deer in the headlights?

"Keep your vehicle straight, apply the brakes, don't swerve and enter the ditch, which could cause you further harm," says OPP Acting Sergeant Tyler Copeland.

Firearm season for deer in Ontario opened Nov. 1 and runs for two weeks until Nov. 14.