DULUTH — Drivers on Minnesota highways are slightly more likely to hit a deer this year than last according to an annual assessment by State Farm Insurance.
The company said an estimated 1-in-74 Minnesota drivers will hit a deer or other large animal this year, up from about 1-in-80 drivers in 2016.
Minnesota retained its rank as No. 7 among all 50 states in how likely drivers are to hit a deer on the road.
The insurance company uses insurance claims data to make its estimates. But the increasing odds correlate well with reports of increased deer populations from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which show about 20 percent more deer in forested areas over last year.
West Virginia again ranks as the place drivers are most likely to hit a deer, with a 1-in-43 chance. Pennsylvania and Montana are second and third. You're pretty safe in Hawaii, where there's only a 1-in-6,823 chance of hitting a big critter.
Iowa ranks fourth on the list with Wisconsin in fifth (1-in-72 drivers will hit a deer) South Dakota sixth (1-in-73) and North Dakota 10th (1-in-in-87).
It's the 15th annual deer collision report form State Farm, the nation's largest auto insurer. The report also includes collisions with moose, elk and caribou. The company says the likelihood of colliding with a large animal more than doubles in October, November and December, during their mating seasons and when the big animals are being pursued by hunters.
Nationwide, an estimated 1.3 million drivers will submit insurance claims for collisions with big animals this year, about 1 in every 164 drivers on the road.
The cost of repairing vehicles after deer collisions also is going up, hitting $4,179 on average in the 12 months ending June 30, 2017, up from $3,995 the year before.
Accidents with deer aren't just expensive — they also can be deadly. In 2013, the most recent year with complete data available, 191 people died as a result of vehicle collisions with animals across the U.S., according to the Insurance Information Institute and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.