Breeding Season Causes Increase in Deer Collisions

It's breeding season, which mean more deer running onto roads.

ByABC News
November 12, 2010, 4:33 PM

Nov. 14, 2010 -- Olivia Blake's bruised and cut face tells the story. Olivia, 17, and the rest of her family are lucky to be alive after a deer slammed through their car's windshield, traveled through the entire car and out the back window in a flash.

"I was sitting in the back seat and my mom said, 'Deer!' and then I just blacked out," she told ABC News. Blake's father is still hospitalized and will need facial reconstruction surgery. It was a traumatic night on a Minnesota road, but far from uncommon in the month of November.

The family was heading for pizza when the buck was hit first by a car in the other lane. " I saw what looked to me like the cow in the movie 'Twister,' seriously, just come whooshing at us and crashed on the windshield," said Olivia's mother Susan, who was in the passenger seat. "I actually saw it and I felt this rush of air and looked up and I saw we were kind of veering off to the side of the road and I thought, Oh, my husband's pulling over. Well, he was unconscious and I was unaware of that. He rolled down an embankment."

"This is one thing that I'll never forget," said state trooper Mark Fahning, who was called to the scene last Saturday near New Ulm, Minnesota. "It's amazing with a 100 pound object coming through the windshield that they weren't hurt worse."

Deer hits are not unusual in November. In fact, your chance of hitting a deer rises threefold this month because this is breeding season. Bucks are chasing does and many end up in the middle of the road.

"It's a big problem, particularly this time of year," says Kim Hazelbaker, a senior vice president of the Highway Loss Data Institute. "We see literally hundreds of thousands of claims that cost insurers hundreds of millions of dollars and these of course have to be paid for by all of us who are insured," he says. The average cost of repairs is between $2,500 and $3,000 when an auto and deer collide.

Drivers in nearly half the country have a medium to high chance of having an encounter with a deer on the road. The most dangerous state: West Virginia. Drivers there have a one in 42 chance of hitting a deer.

The number of deer and collisions with autos have been increasing the past several years. Some suggest it is time to start to thin herds. But will it work? "The problem is, how many are you going to cull out and still continue to have this problem? As long as we are sharing our nation's roadways with wild animals, there's going to be a problem," says Hazelbaker.

Experts say deer are usually out between 6 to 9 in the evenings and travel in herds. So, if you see one, keep an eye out for others.