Minnesota drivers expected to hit more than 42,000 deer

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DULUTH, Minn.—Minnesota drivers are slightly more likely to hit a deer on state roadways this year compared to last year, and Wisconsin drivers face about the same odds of a deer collision.

That's the report from State Farm Insurance, which complies an annual list of the states where drivers are most likely to hit a deer, moose or elk.

Minnesota again placed seventh out of the 50 states, with Wisconsin sixth, South Dakota fifth and North Dakota 11th.

Minnesota drivers have a 1-in-80 chance of hitting a deer this year, with Wisconsin drivers at 1-in-77, South Dakota drivers at 1-in-70 and North Dakota at 1-in-91.

Minnesota drivers will hit deer about 42,207 times over the next 12 months, with Wisconsin drivers forecast to hit about 54,597, the report stated.

West Virginia drivers face the nation's highest odds of having a vehicle-deer collision at 1 in 41. Drivers in Hawaii face the least likelihood of striking a deer at 1 in 18,955.

Minnesota and Wisconsin drivers face about double the national average odds of hitting a deer.

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

State Farm said Minnesota drivers face a 1.3 percent higher chance of a deer collision this year compared to last, with no change for Wisconsin drivers. The data jibe with slightly higher deer population estimates from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which show Minnesota deer herds rebounding gradually the past two years after tough winters in 2013 and 2014.

Drivers are heading into the months where a deer collision is most likely — October, November and December — with both deer mating and deer hunting underway.

"We know there is an increased risk of collision with deer around dawn and dusk, and also during the October-December breeding season," said Chris Mullen, director of technology research at State Farm. "However, drivers should be engaged, alert and on the lookout at all times, because you never know when you may need to react to a deer or any other obstacle that may suddenly be in your path."

The national average cost per claim for 2015-16 was $3,995.08, down just slightly from $4,135 in 2014-15.

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.