More deer mean good news for hunters, bad news for drivers - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

More deer mean good news for hunters, bad news for drivers

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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – A Jonesboro woman crashed into a tree Friday morning after swerving her van to miss hitting a deer.

The woman sustained only minor injuries during the crash, but the incident has raised some questions about how often these kinds of accidents happen and what the local deer population is.

The annual deer harvest report can perhaps provide the best insight into the latter. It shows that hunters have consecutively killed more and more deer during the past four years.

It should come as no surprise then that the chances of actually hitting a deer have gone up during that time, too.

"The more rural areas you're in, the more apt you are to see a deer and have a collision," Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd said.

Deer crossing signs are familiar sights in Craighead County, and for good reason.

"The further the city expands the way we have in the past 10 years here in the Jonesboro area expanding out into the county areas, the more collisions they have," Sheriff Boyd said, "because the city is sort of incorporating parts of the areas where the animals have been living."

Lately, the Craighead County Sheriff's Department has worked few accidents involving deer or any wildlife, but Boyd says those tend to happen more frequently when the seasons start to change.

"The harsher the winter, it seems like the more movement the animals are going to do because they're scavenging for food," he said, "so this is one of the busiest times for deer collisions."

State Farm now lists Arkansas ninth among the states where drivers are mostly likely to hit a deer. The insurance group estimates that the odds of an Arkansan hitting a deer in 2012 were 1 in 102.5, compared with 1 in 122 in 2011.

The heightened risk comes at the same time that the state has actually reported more deer killed by hunters.

The Arkansas Game & Fish Commission shows that the deer harvest has recently reached highs not just in the state but also in Craighead County.

The AGFC reported that the deer harvest exceeded 213,000 between 2012 and 2013. It surpassed 400 during that same time frame in Craighead County alone.

With more deer roaming the woods these days, drivers may find comfort knowing that statistically, they are much more likely to collide with one during the month of November than any other time of the year, at least according to State Farm.

Nevertheless, the insurance group recommends that motorists keep a few things in mind year-round.

Officials ask drivers to always slow down and be more aware in areas that have deer crossing signs posted. The signs are there for a reason.

Remember, too, that deer are most active at dawn and dusk.

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