Lots of deer wrecks, but risk low

Bloomington, Ill. – Illinois motorists collided with nearly
43,000 deer between July 1, 2008, and June 30 of this year,
according to research by State Farm Insurance.

The insurance company, using its claims data, estimated Illinois
drivers struck 42,844 whitetails over that one-year period – the
sixth-highest total of any state in the U.S.

Only Pennsylvania (105,843), Michigan (104,561), New York
(74,958), Ohio (67,331) and Virginia (48,303) had higher
totals.

While Illinois remains one of the country’s top deer-hunting
destinations, and in the number of collisions, it’s not in the top
10 in terms of the likelihood of deer-vehicle collisions.

Illinois checked in as a medium-risk state, with the odds of
hitting a deer deemed 1 in 228. That ranks 30th in the nation.

“(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 Illinois’ motorists struck nearly 43,000 whitetails last
year an Illinois driver’s chances of hitting a deer is estimated at
1 in 153.35. That figure is well down the list 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._Illinois had 9.7
million motor vehicle registrations last year.

The high rate of deer-related accidents is connected to the rise
in deer populations throughout the United States. In the early
1900s, recovering from the pressure of overhunting, there were
roughly 500,000 white-tailed deer nationwide. A century later, some
put that estimate at as many as 30 million.

Conservationists have documented the serious adverse effects
that high numbers of deer have on ecosystems.

Some have argued that the use of firearms for hunting and
sharpshooting is unsafe; yet driving in an area with too many deer
has proven far more likely to result in an accident. According to
the most recent report by the International Hunter Education
Association, there were 850 hunting accidents in the entire United
States in 2002. In 2004, there were 881 vehicle crashes caused by
deer in Cook County alone.

A major player in the Illinois Joint Task Force on Deer
Population Control was the insurance industry. And DNR uses
car-vehicle collision data from each Illinois county to determine
the need for late-winter deer seasons.

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

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