NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – October marks the beginning of deer mating season, when the animals are active and more likely to leap onto roads.

As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reports, the number of new crashes involving deer is staggering.

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Situations of cars versus animals have tragic consequences.

“You can get into a major accident. You can try to save a deer and then crash into a car,” said Ikbal Sheriff, of Farmingdale.

“Oh, it makes me really scared, because I would hate to injure an animal,” said Kate Marker of Malverne.

Across the Tri-State, animals are being struck by cars at a record pace.

“The overall numbers that we’re seeing are the highest in 10 years,” said Robert Sinclair, a spokesperson for AAA Northeast.

Suffolk County ranked in the top three in New York State, with nearly 1,500 animal crashes in 2019, according to Sinclair.

“We have a lot of animals on the road, probably because we are encroaching more and more on their territory,” Sinclair said.

“We don’t have a natural predator for deer, so their numbers are increasing with no control… Also, various towns and communities aren’t allowing hunting,” said Isabel Fernandes of Sweetbriar Nature Center.

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Naturalists at the Sweetbriar Nature Center in Smithtown are advising visitors to be on the lookout.

“This time of year, it is mating season. So, they’re very active and moving around,” Fernandes said.

“When you see one deer come out, you’re going to see more following. They do go in packs,” said Suffolk County SPCA Chief Roy Gross. “They’ll come right through your windshield.”

Drivers should be especially vigilant at night, when 84% of animal crashes happen. Most often, they occur between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Officials say drivers should:

  • Scan the shoulders of the road ahead, since animals can leap out.
  • Obey the speed limit; lower speeds protect you and the animals.
  • Apply brakes gently to reduce the impact if a collision is unavoidable; do not swerve.

If there’s no oncoming traffic, high beam headlights can be a good way to deter animals.

“If we value life, we will be safety conscious, whether it’s an animal or person,” said TJ Whitten, of East Meadow.

“You just go very slow. When you see the deer crossing, everybody just brakes,” said Claudia Mariano, or Levittown.

Orange County, home of West Point and part of Bear Mountain had the most recorded animal crashes last year with more than 1,600.

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