DNR, State Farm remind drivers to watch out for deer as busy summer travel continues

NOW: DNR, State Farm remind drivers to watch out for deer as busy summer travel continues

WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- "Watch out for deer" might as well be considered the state of Wisconsin unofficial goodbye. According to the DNR, the state records between 16,000 and 20,000 deer vs. vehicle incidents every year.

"There's two spikes every year," explained Jeff Pritzl, the state deer program specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). "We're just getting passed the first spike which always happens at the end of May, early June."

Pritzl says the peak times coordinate with the cycle of a deer's life. In late spring and early summer, young deer are moving in potentially unfamiliar areas without the guidance of more experienced deer. In the fall months, breeding season sees more deer moving around. It means an increased risk for drivers.

"Unfortunately, that's part of traveling in Wisconsin," Pritzl said, adding drivers need to be alert for deer at all times of the year. "There's still plenty of opportunities, unfortunately, to encounter a deer on the roadway."

An animal incident report from State Farm lists Wisconsin as the 6th most likely state in the nation for likelihood of a collision with an animal with one in 56 odds. Maggie Bringa is an insurance agent with State Farm in Waukesha and says her office is always busy with calls for vehicle versus animal collisions.

"They call at night, they'll call in the morning," Bringa said. "Most of the time, the deer comes at you out of the ditch and you don't have a chance to react."

Bringa says while it may be a driver's instinct to swerve to try and avoid a deer on the roadway, that's not the best course of action.

"That creates a whole new set of problems. Maybe lose control, maybe you flip over," Bringa said. "At State Farm, hitting a deer is not a chargeable accident, so your rates are not going to increase because you hit a deer."

Other tips for drivers include braking as necessary, using high beams and flickering them when seeing an animal in the road way, watching for herds and staying extra alert between dusk and dawn.

"Those deer are going to enter the roadway very quick, without much warning," Pritzl said. "Eyes ahead on the road. Avoid distractions."

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