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

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – A Jonesboro woman crashed into a treeFriday 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 accidentshappen and what the local deer population is.

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

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

"The more rural areas you're in, the more apt you are to seea 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 10years here in the Jonesboro area expanding out into the county areas, the morecollisions they have," Sheriff Boyd said, "because the city is sort ofincorporating parts of the areas where the animals have been living."

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

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

State Farm now lists Arkansas ninth among the states wheredrivers are mostly likely to hit a deer. The insurance group estimates that theodds of an Arkansan hitting a deer in 2012 were 1 in 102.5, compared with 1 in122 in 2011.

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

The Arkansas Game & Fish Commission shows that the deerharvest has recently reached highs not just in the state but also in CraigheadCounty.

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

With more deer roaming the woods these days, drivers mayfind comfort knowing that statistically, they are much more likely to collidewith one during the month of November than any other time of the year, at leastaccording to State Farm.

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

Officials ask drivers to always slow down and be more aware inareas 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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