State Farm Analysts Say Drivers More Likely to Hit Deer This Year

Deer in Ohio, pic: Paul Cox
Deer in Ohio, pic: Paul Cox
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Around Christmas a few years ago, Avon Lake resident Mark Mattson was driving to see family in the country, near Grafton, when from the corner of his eye, he spotted a deer.

"I slammed on the brakes and I got lucky, because it went right in front of the car," he said. "But there was a second deer, which I didn’t miss – or it didn’t miss me."

Mattson’s 1993 Lexus was totaled.

More Ohioans could face similar danger on the roadways this fall, according to State Farm’s analysis of recent claims data.

"The odds are about 1 in 127 this year, which is well above the national average of 1 in 169," said Angie Rinock, a State Farm spokeswoman in Ohio.

West Virginians have the worst odds, with one in 39 drivers expected to hit a deer.

Government officials aren’t buying the State Farm estimate. State data shows car-deer crashes are actually down 20 percent over the last five years.

State Division of Wildlife spokeswoman Jamey Emmert says the forecast surprised her, since the state has been working to thin the herd slightly over the last decade.
Either way, she says, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Or a nice steak.

"Venison is very healthy, and it doesn’t come any fresher than getting a deer that’s harvested just minutes before," Emmert said.

She said drivers who want to take home a deer they’ve hit should ask for a receipt from a law enforcement officer, to prove they obtained their dinner legally.

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