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Deer Herd is Up, Along With Your Odds of a Collision

It may not be as wonkish as Kiplinger’s new top ten list ranking Minnesota the second least tax-friendly state in America. But Minnesota just made another top ten list that should also serve as a warning shot.  I know from personal experience. That’s my trusty 2002 Suburban with 300,000 miles being towed for the last time.

Every fall about this time, State Farm Insurance calculates the likelihood of drivers hitting a deer or other large animal based on the number of accidents the year before and ranks the states. Minnesota remains seventh on the list again this year. But the chances of hitting a deer on Minnesota highways edged up, partly due to guys like me.  My run-in happened last November on Highway 7 in Minnetrista.

I didn’t get the deer. This bulky atypical 11 point whitetail buck got me, bounding out of nowhere onto the highway just after sunset. Thankfully, the impact appeared to be instantly fatal, as a friend and I found the buck down a ravine next to the road. I reported it in to the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office in hopes the meat would not go to waste.

It goes with the territory in states like Minnesota, warranting an annual reminder in the Duluth News Tribune.

 The company said an estimated 1-in-74 Minnesota drivers will hit a deer or other large animal this year, up from about 1-in-80 drivers in 2016.

The chances of a collision rise and fall largely with the size of the herd, which has spiked this year. The odds of an accident double in the fall.

The company says the likelihood of colliding with a large animal more than doubles in October, November and December, during their mating seasons and when the big animals are being pursued by hunters.

Nationwide, an estimated 1.3 million drivers will submit insurance claims for collisions with big animals this year, about 1 in every 164 drivers on the road.

The cost of repairing vehicles after deer collisions also is going up, hitting $4,179 on average in the 12 months ending June 30, 2017, up from $3,995 the year before.

Click to enlarge

The most dangerous state to drive in this time of year? West Virginia, trailed by Pennsylvania, Montana, Iowa, Wisconsin and South Dakota–and Minnesota.

Accidents with deer aren’t just expensive — they also can be deadly. In 2013, the most recent year with complete data available, 191 people died as a result of vehicle collisions with animals across the U.S., according to the Insurance Information Institute and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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