One in 88 Minnesota drivers will hit a deer this year
Minnesota drivers will face a 1-in-88 chance of hitting a deer on the state's highways this year, according to a report released Monday by the nation's largest auto insurance company.
Minnesota drivers will face a 1-in-88 chance of hitting a deer on the state’s highways this year, according to a report released Monday by the nation’s largest auto insurance company.
State Farm’s annual report estimates that Minnesota drivers will collide with 37,549 deer in 2014.
Minnesota drivers have the 8th highest odds of hitting a deer among the 50 states, according to the report, down from 6th highest in last year’s report. The lower number of deer expected to be struck reflects the decline in Minnesota’s estimated deer population, which has dropped in recent years due to hard winters and high hunter harvest levels in the previous decade.
According to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources data, the statewide deer harvest peaked in 2003 and has been generally declining, along with the population, since then. The statewide buck harvest is down more than 27 percent over that period.
Wisconsin drivers have the 7th highest odds of striking a deer in the U.S., - 1-in-85, the same as last year. Wisconsin drivers are expected to hit 47,669 deer this year.
North Dakota drivers have a 1-in-120 chance of striking a deer, the 16th highest in the nation, while South Dakota drivers have 1-in-82 odds, fifth highest.
West Virginia drivers face the highest odds of hitting a deer, 1-in-39. But Pennsylvania drivers will hit by far the most deer - 123,941. But, because Pennsylvania has so many more drivers, they have a 1-in-77 chance of striking a deer, the second highest in the nation.
Drivers in Hawaii face the lowest odds of striking a deer – just 1-in-10,281.
“Whether you live in Pennsylvania or Hawaii, it’s important that drivers are practicing safe driving habits and watching out for animals on the road,” State Farm spokeswoman Ann Avery said in a statement releasing the report. “Wearing your seat belt and practicing defensive driving tactics could make a significant difference.”
State Farm releases its annual deer collision reports using its own claims data and state licensed driver counts from the Federal Highway Administration.
Minnesota and Wisconsin drivers are more than twice as likely as the national average to hit a deer. Nationwide, there are some 212 million licensed drivers on the road and they struck a total of 1.25 million deer, for 1-in-169 odds.
And if you do hit a deer, get ready to dig deep: State Farm says the average national cost per deer collision claim average is $3,888, up 13.9 percent from 2013, when the average was $3,414.
In Minnesota, the most frequent months for deer collisions are November and October, when hunters are afield and deer are mating and moving more, followed by June, when newborn fawns are beginning to move around.
In 2012, 175 deaths on U.S. highways were the result of collisions with animals, with deer being the animal most often struck, according to the Insurance Information Institute and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety .
While deer collisions are expected to go down in Minnesota, they are projected to go up 21 percent in Indiana. Ron Regan, executive director for the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies said those fluctuations are caused by changing deer populations, changes in roads and changes in hunting seasons as well as weather.
Tips for deer-season driving:
- Always wear your seatbelt.
- At night, when there is no oncoming traffic, use high beams.
- Avoid swerving when you see a deer. Stay on the road.
- Scan the road and ditches well ahead for deer and other danger signs.
- Do not rely on devices such as deer whistles.