Iowa DNR biologist weighs factors of deer-car collisions

The risk pushed 18 Iowa communities and 25 state and county parks to organize a managed deer harvest/KTVO

Deer are on the move, especially now that hunting season is underway.

KTVO was curious to see if this actually increases the risk of hitting a deer from behind the wheel.

According to a new study released by State Farm on Monday, 1 in 69 Iowans will hit a deer sometime this year

Ottumwa agent Jim Carnahan said that means Iowa ranks fourth in the country in the likelihood of filing an insurance claim with a deer. This time of year, he sees at least one claim come through his offices each week.

"Especially in Davis County, more than Wapello County, we have a lot of deer crashes," Carnahan said.

Fourth in the nation might seem pretty significant, but both Carnahan and Wapello County Sheriff Mark Miller were expecting higher.

"I was really surprised that Iowa probably didn't top the list because this is predominantly a rural state, with conditions that are very favorable for the deer," Miller said.

The risk pushed 18 Iowa communities and 25 state and county parks to organize a managed deer harvest. Since then, Iowa DNR Wildlife Depredation Biologist Greg Harris said hunters within Ottumwa city limits nearly doubled the success rate, going from 58 does harvested in 2009 to 33 harvested in 2016.

Deer population isn't the only factor to consider, though. Harris said there are two more causes that affect the number of crashes.

"The second one would be the speed travel, and the third is the number of vehicles on the road,” Harris said. “So if you increase any one of those factors up above, you can see an increase in deer-vehicle accidents."

Miller said often times, drivers can't avoid it.

"A lot of these car-deer collisions, there is literally nothing a lot of motorists can do about them,” Miller said. “They happen so fast, the deer comes from the left side of the road or the right side, into the path."

However, monitoring your speed is one way to control it.

"They don't see you, they don't hear you because you're coming up on them at an unnatural rate of speed for them,” Carnahan said.

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