We’re smack in the middle of deer-and-car-collision season in West Virginia — and the latest numbers say it’s worse than ever.
State Farm Insurance has released its annual study and says that for the 14th year in a row, West Virginia leads the nation in deer-vehicle collisions.
Alarmingly, 1 in 37 West Virginians has had a run-in with a deer in the last year, the insurer said, which is worse than a year ago, and that was considered the worst rate in recent memory.
The stats from State Farm dovetail with a reminder from the Division of Natural Resources about watching for deer.
DNR estimates that 40 percent of accidents happen in the last 3 months of the year, the period surrounding the deer rut.
“The rut seems to be coming on a little late this year,” Rich Rogers noted Monday. He’s the big game wildlife biologist for DNR’s Romney office.
The abundance of deer, coupled with the state’s rugged terrain, makes for, well, accidents waiting to happen.
Once that deer has been hit, the damage costs more to repair, State Farm’s claims data shows. The average cost last year was over $4,500, AAA reports.
DNR has a list of reasons for the high accident rate, starting with deer species characteristics.
“West Virginia is fortunate to have an abundance of white-tailed deer,” understated Tyler Evans, wildlife biologist with the DNR Wildlife Resources Section, in a press release last week. “However, this abundance can magnify the issue of deer-vehicle collisions when combined with the deer breeding season which takes place in the fall.”
Evans noted that West Virginia’s rugged terrain also likely contributes to the collisions. The best deer habitat and mast are often found in valleys and bottomlands, he said, which, of course, is where most of the state’s roads run.
The mating season, or rut, increases deer activity and movement in late October and November, raising the likelihood of deer-vehicle collisions.
“Additionally, many hunters will take to the woods this fall,” Evans said. “Their presence may also influence movement of deer and may increase the likelihood of a deer-vehicle collision.”
By the way, State Farm says the other states in the top 5 of most-likely-to-collide-with-a-deer are, in order, Montana, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Michigan.
On the other hand, drivers in Hawaii have only a 1-in-647 chance of hitting a deer — and for drivers in D.C., it’s 1 in 826. Lucky them.