Road-killed deer approach 75,000

Bloomington, Ill. – New York motorists collided with nearly
75,000 vehicles between July 1, 2008, and June 30 of this year,
according to the nation’s leading auto insurer.

State Farm Insurance, using its claims data, estimated New York
drivers struck 74,958 whitetails over that one-year period – the
third-highest total of any state in the U.S.

DEC Chief Wildlife Biologist John Major said those numbers “fall
very much in the ballpark of what we think is going on” on the
state’s highways.

Only Pennsylvania (105,843) and Michigan (104,561) had higher
totals.

New York was one of 23 states that saw an increase of 15 percent
of more in the number of vehicle-deer collisions over that time.
The Empire State’s numbers were up 28 percent from the previous
one-year period, State Farm figures showed.

“(State Farm) estimates 2.4 million collisions between deer and
vehicles during the two-year period between July 1, 2007 and June
30, 2009,” company officials said in a news release. “That’s 18.3
percent more than five years earlier (a period in which the number
of vehicles on the road increased by 7 percent).”

While New York motorists struck nearly 75,000 whitetails last
year according to the State Farm statistics, an Empire State
driver’s chances of hitting a deer is estimated at 1 in 153.35.
That figure is well down the list (16th) of states where you’re
most likely to strike a deer on the road. West Virginia, at 1 in
39.17, easily topped that list, followed by Michigan (1 in 78),
Pennsylvania (1 in 94), Iowa (1 in 104) and Montana (1 in 104).

The likelihood of striking a deer in each state is established
by a combination of State Farms claim data along with motor vehicle
counts from the Federal Highway Administration._New York has about
11.5 million motor vehicle registrations.

Major says contrary to the opinions of some sportsmen, insurance
companies don’t weigh in on DEC’s deer management efforts and push
for a higher harvest.

“But they are stakeholders, as are the motorists,” he said. “So
there is a human health and safety concern. We see the press
releases, but we don’t hear from the insurance companies
directly.”

DEC uses road kill numbers, winter kill estimates “and other
things other than legal harvest figures” in monitoring deer numbers
across the state. But Major says one challenge for the state is
that, in many areas where high numbers of deer-vehicle collisions
occur, hunting isn’t an option to trim deer numbers because the
whitetails are located in highly populated areas where there are
tight restrictions on hunting and firearms discharges.

DEC no longer uses a carcass tag program in which motorists
claiming vehicle-struck deer received a carcass tag and we to
report that to the department similar to a successful hunter. Major
said the reporting rate was very low, and many other whitetails
were picked up by motorists who didn’t bother to obtain a carcass
tag.

State Farm figures showed the average property damage cost of
the vehicle-deer collisions was $3,050, up 3.4 percent from a year
ago.

Other highlights from the State Farm report:

€ Nebraska and New Jersey saw the highest percentage increase in
vehicle-deer collisions, each up 54 percent from a year earlier.
Kansas saw a 41 percent jump; Florida, Arkansas and Mississippi
each 38 percent.

€ New York had the fourth-highest number of registered motorists
in the U.S., its 11.5 million figure behind only California (33.9
million), Texas (18 million) and Florida (16.5 million).

State Farm officials said the collisions were more frequent
during the whitetail’s breeding season from October to
December.

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